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MCISD discusses school security improvements

MISSION—The Mission Consolidated Independent School District Finance Committee discussed new security options for its campuses on Feb. 6. MCISD Assistant Superintendant for Finance & Operations Lucio Mendoza explained they have worked with the Mission Fire Department and Mission Police Department to develop the proposed changes.

Mendoza showed a video to the committee that depicted gunmen entering a campus and attacking staff and students. He explained they used the video to see what measures can be taken to prevent every move the gunmen make.

“I met with Chief Garza, from Mission Police Department, and when we met with him he mentioned they had already done a preliminary assessment at some of the campuses,” Mendoza said. “His major concern was the high schools and middle schools.”

The proposed security plan calls for teachers to keep classroom doors locked at all times. Campus exterior doors will have an intrusion sensor device installed, which will set off an alarm.

Mendoza said high schools and middle schools doors could be programmed to unlock and lock when bells ring for period changes.

A workshop was held on Jan. 30 to discuss proposed reconstruction changes for the Mission High School campus. Teachers and administration voiced concern over security, due to a lockdown that happened earlier that day.

MHS and Mission Junior high were placed on lockdown while Mission PD searched for an aggravated robbery suspect in the vicinity. Teachers from MHS said the lockdown took minutes to be completed due to a faulty intercom system at the campus.

“A lot of that has to do with cabling. With the upgrades we are doing at that campus it should take care of all of that,” Mendoza said. “We want to get it fixed as soon as possible.”

Some doors will be equipped with swiping mechanisms, so teachers can escort children in and out of the building when needed. A magnetic swipe attachment is projected to cost $1,600 each.

Another option is for administrators to carry a wireless panic button, or having designated panic buttons at each campus. Currently, schools call 911 in the event of an emergency, a button would give local law enforcement an advantage and avoid loss of reaction time.

Though security cameras and DVR systems have already been upgraded at some campuses, the district plans to perform the same upgrades at all campuses, due to the age of the equipment now in service. The cost for these upgrades alone is estimated at about $800,000. Mendoza also proposed implementing a command center that would have the cameras from each campus monitored daily.

The chief security concern for MCISD elementary schools is the immediate access to the front office and classrooms. Tempered glass walls are believed to solve the problem.

“My idea is if you force them to shoot at a glass wall, and if they shoot 10 times to break the glass…that is less bullets that they will have available to do damage,” Mendoza said. “You have the first door, you have the glass wall and then the front office.”

Local law enforcement teams also discussed metal detectors and higher windows. Windows placed at a higher point in a wall doesn’t allow intruders to see in the classroom.

One proposal calls for an alarm in the front office that would immediately lock down the campus, blocking access to students in classrooms.

Mendoza said additional meetings with administration and walkthroughs of each campus with the Mission PD and Mission FD would be scheduled over the next month.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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