PLANO –– Students at dozens of Plano schools will notice some security changes when they go back to class in three weeks.
District leaders came up with a plan after the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in December in Connecticut. All summer long, workers have been putting up barriers that prevent visitors from entering secure areas of schools without first entering the front office.
Beverly Elementary School is the latest on the list to undergo renovations.
"Blocking the entrance is a really good one, because it's very easy to get into the schools," said Melanie Southerland, a Plano ISD parent. "They just buzz in, and then they don't necessarily go into the office."
The district is also installing mobile "no-delay" panic buttons at each elementary and early childhood school. The buttons will send an alarm signal from the school to a police dispatcher.
"Those are better measures than handing each teacher a gun," said Suzanne Chavez, whose daughter will start elementary school on August 26.
District leaders decided against having armed guards on campuses. Instead, they'll hire off-duty police officers to patrol school areas. Officers will drive marked police cars provided by the school district. The idea is to speed up response times in the event of the unthinkable.
"The sooner we can get there, the faster we can actually de-escalate a situation, and respond and take action," said Ofc. David Tilley, Plano Police Spokesman.
Plano parents we talked with applaud the new security plan. They told us the $800,000 price tag is money well spent.
"Can you put a price tag on our kids?," asked Chavez. "I want it for my daughter."
Plano ISD officials didn't want speak on camera about the security changes, saying they want to implement it first. Most of the work should be done by the end of the first semester.