AISD security upgrades include "panic buttons" for teachers



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Posted on February 27, 2013 at 6:20 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 27 at 6:36 PM

AUSTIN - The Austin Independent School District has launched a new security plan designed to protect students from any threats on campus.

AISD says they have a long term plan to improve security, but after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut last year, the district says some of the improvements need to be in effect immediately.

Father of two David Lindberg says when he thinks about sending his own kids to school, security is a top priority.

"With everything that has happened recently, I'm sure they're looking at that and making changes," Lindberg said.

The district is in the process of putting safety upgrades in every school in AISD.

"After Sandy Hook every district in the nation took a second look at their plans," said AISD Police Chief Eric Mendez.

Twenty-four million dollars has been allocated for security in the current bond proposal, but the district says some of those changes can't wait, so they've found the money to make some of those upgrades immediately.

"We've found some areas of concern we needed to address immediately and not wait on a bond to pass for 2013," Chief Mendez said.

They're using the $21 million allotted for security from a 2004 bond plus an additional $520,000 the AISD police requested out of that bond.

The plan includes new locks on every door in every school.

"We've made changes to our locking systems so that some of those doors remain locked at all times and only faculty, staff have access to opening those doors," Chief Mendez said.

New and improved cameras are being installed inside and surrounding campus that are closely monitored by campus officers.

The district is also putting in "panic buttons" for teachers and staff that will be accessible throughout the school in an emergency situation.

"While I won't go into great detail into how we will use those panic buttons or where they will be located, we're looking at enhancing our security systems to where there will be immediate notifications systems to our police dispatch," Chief Mendez said.

"I know that the schools are pretty secure," Lindberg said. "As long as they have their systems in place, I know we have some great resources officers here at AISD."

Parents like Lindberg say he's not worried and has trust in the school district's plan.

The district says most of the changes are already being put in place and should be finished by the end of the school year. Chief Mendez also says he will be asking the board to increase police patrols near elementary schools in the upcoming budget.