This article originally appeared in the Friday July 26, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
By the time the incoming school year begins next month, every campus in the Sharyland Independent School district will have at least one full-time security guard on sight.
During Monday’s school board meeting, Sharyland trustees approved an agreement with the Mission based firm MLG Protection Services to hire four more security guards to the district, bringing their total to 22 security guards.
With this one-year agreement, which comes with the option to renew for two years, the district will be able to provide a security guard at every campus, district maintenance Director Mark Dougherty said.
Though both Sharyland high schools and middle schools have full time security guards working during school hours, all eight elementary campuses have had “roaming guards” for the last few years, Dougherty explained.
“Two guards would patrol the elementary campuses on the opposite ends of the district on two-hour shifts,” Dougherty said. “We’re now adding four additional guards and reclassifying the ones we have so every campus will have one guard at every campus at least.”
Dougherty said that this increase was an action recommended by the district’s safety committee. As previously reported, the committee was created last summer in response to multiple school shootings across the county to discuss school safety and security.
A safety assessment of the district was conducted by the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office at the request of the committee. Other implementations included monthly drills conducted at each campus, active shooter training presentations and discussions to identify students with any disciplinary or emotional issues.
Another recommendation recently implemented by the district was to fully fence all campuses. Sharyland North Junior High School was the only campus without a fence, which was added earlier this school year, Dougherty said.
“We hope it’s an increase for [student] safety,” Dougherty said. “We’re very vigilant and diligent when it comes to the safety of our kids, it’s an added measure to have our parents and students feel safe and secure but it’s not the end all. We’ll look to see what we can do in the future to enhance our future.”
Dougherty said that a full-time security guard had been something that all district elementary principals had been requesting for the last three years-when the district opted to use roaming guards.
“We felt at the time that that’s what we could use, it was effective but we can do better,” Dougherty said, adding that the new guards would be paid through the district’s security budget. “School safety is an ongoing thing. We will always be working on it even when the school year isn’t in session.”