PLANO -- Just before Plano ISD students rushed off for winter break, the superintendent left parents with a letter detailing plans to improve security at schools.
In the letter, Superintendent Richard Matkin called for "aggressive recommendations," which will be given to the school board.
"It does make me feel better," said Pamela Bibb, a parent of a Plano ISD student. "It gives me comfort to know they're looking at all that."
The superintendent is calling this a "rare opportunity to review procedures" following the sad events in Connecticut.
"Anything that helps our community and our young ones," said Alecia Hylkema, a parent.
All parents we talked with want change. Matkin wants all buildings to have controlled and monitored access points -- a recommendation that won't be cheap. According to a security firm News 8 spoke with, these type of structural changes could cost the district $2.5 million.
The superintendent also wants security guards on all campuses. He did not say if they would be carrying a gun. That could cost the district another $2.1 million per year, according to our industry experts.
Tom Hamman likes the idea of extra personnel, but wants to know if they're armed.
"It takes the police three-to-four minutes to get here," he said. "By that time, there could be all kinds of damage."
Our experts put a total price tag of $4.5 million on these possible improvements. Matkin's recommendations will be heard by the board on January 15.
As we enter the semester break, I wanted to extend my sincere appreciation to you for choosing Plano ISD as your school community.
Following the tragic events of last week in Connecticut, I have personally reflected on how we run our day-to-day operations and how important it is that you and your children feel safe and secure. We have been provided a rare opportunity to review our procedures and to revisit access/control points while being mindful of the experiences of another community. I have appreciated the partnership of the city's law enforcement officers and their efforts to keep a watchful eye over our campuses as we wrapped up the first semester. One of the most appreciated partnerships is that of a law enforcement division and its local school district. I am very grateful for the City of Plano, the Plano Police Department and our surrounding municipalities for their spirit of cooperation on a daily basis and during a time of concern.
I will bring forth to the school board some very aggressive recommendations regarding safety. These recommendations will address our buildings' physical structure and security services as deemed appropriate. In the short term, we will be considering increased monitored access to buildings. Over the next few months, we will likely be extending security personnel to all campuses. We have already begun looking at modifying points of entry to best control access. Some schools will see construction to route guests to a single controlled entry if this does not already exist on their campus. Additionally, we are considering more staff training models that would be prescriptive to new or different threats. Please understand that we have always been very proud of the safety and security protocols in our district and believe that we successfully support a focused learning environment daily. However, the entire nation is appropriately reflecting on recent events and I want to take reasonable and progressive measures to safeguard against security threats.
I can assure our Plano ISD community of students, parents, citizens and staff members that we will continue to evaluate our current systems and practices. The most important component to any safety plan is the partnership of an organization with a vigilant community. Thank you for the confidence you place in Plano ISD each day and for your thoughtful actions to keep our schools safe.
Superintendent of Schools
Plano Independent School District