WACO, Texas — Children in the Waco ISD will soon see more safety upgrades, like taller fencing, thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the Texas Legislature.
According to a press release by school officials, "the district’s latest safety grant comes as a result of the Texas Legislature providing new funding for school safety totaling $1.4 billion for the next two years to address new school safety standards and other facilities-related safety improvements."
This is not the first time in recent months that the district has received funds for safety upgrades.
District officials said the district used a $658,365 Texas Education Agency grant awarded in June to install and upgrade windows, fencing, exterior doors and locks, entry resistant film, and enhance other safety features.
Waco ISD Chief of Operations and Facilities Gloria Barrera says the maintenance staff has nearly completed installing the safety measures funded by the $658,365 grant and look forward to working through the $1.5 million grant the district just received.
According to officials, At the start of the 2023-2024 school year, Waco ISD also received a $47,617 grant earmarked solely for panic alert systems.
"Under the new law, a school’s panic alert system must allow an alert to be triggered manually by campus staff, automatically with a 911 call, include location of where alert was triggered, alerts administrators which can then alert law enforcement, and can simultaneously send an alert to all staff."
Waco ISD Chief Technology Officer Jerry Allen applied for each of the grants after continually conducting needs assessments based on changing legislation and the community climate.
Below is a list including where some upgrades have already happened throughout the district.
Cedar Ridge Fencing: Waco ISD spent more than $300,000 installing fencing perimeters around Mountainview, Hillcrest, and Cedar Ridge Elementary Schools. Under the new TEA School Safety Standards, fences must be at least six feet in height with anti-scaling design features or eight feet high.
Bell’s Hill Safety Doors: A set of double doors at Bell’s Hill Elementary School have been replaced to meet new safety standards that include doors remaining closed and locked, as well as allowing for emergency exit, such as with crash bars, from the inside while remaining locked.
Entry resistant film: All Waco ISD campuses have received window film tint to provide protection from shattered glass and UV rays. The cost to the district for the security film was nearly $238,000 and was paid for through state.