BELTON, Texas — All summer long, Belton ISD has been working on ways to improve their safety across all campuses to make sure something like the Texas School Massacre never happens again.
Soon, a new school year will be in full swing. While it’s an exciting time, it brings its share of worries, especially after the Uvalde tragedy.
“I think as a parent anytime kids are hurt and in danger, that always concerns us as parents,” said Belton ISD parent Brandon Bonneau.
Belton ISD also experienced a tragedy around that time when Belton High School senior Joe Ramirez died after being stabbed on campus in May. Licensed Master Social Worker Alexandrea Long said these incidents impact parents and students.
“You necessarily don’t have to go through it personally in order for it to affect you. Trauma, just by looking at something...can just affect you. These events were close to home,” said Long.
For months, Belton ISD has worked with the TEA, staff and the community to revamp their safety protocols.
“Our big things are gonna be visibility, communication and using every tool at our disposal to keep our kids safe,” said Belton ISD Assistant Superintendent of Operations Michael Morgan.
Morgan says they allocated around $6 million to improve school safety.
“Through budgeting and staffing we have been able to expand our security guard program to add additional campuses and add some additional security guards,” said Morgan. “Also to our partnerships with Belton and Temple Police Departments, we’re gonna be able to add some school resource officers to our team.”
They plan to closely monitor bathroom breaks, hall passes and beef up supervision overall.
“A really big thing for schools is having plans in place for supervising stations and duty supervision...having adults around that can answer questions for kids to help kids off problems and be alert and be aware of things that are going on in our campuses,” said Morgan.
Morgan said they have trained their staff on new safety practices, created a safety task force, including mental health experts and parents. He said they will also monitor and evaluate their exterior doors.
“Some of that’s gonna be with exterior numbering and lettering of doors. Some of that is going to be making sure doors mechanically are working,” he said.
Morgan said they plan to have clear open conversations with their students about mental health. Long said it is important that parents do the same at home.
“Their actions are just symptoms of something deeper. So, when our children start displaying certain things or certain behaviors, instead of trying to attack behavior you want to understand the source of the problem,” said Long.
“Super confident that our kids are safe where they are at. However, as a parent, you always have 'that' in the back of your mind. You need to be able to talk to your kids at the appropriate level to make sure that they know what to do if that situation occurs,” said Bonneau.
Belton ISD officials say they will improve security cameras, fencing and provide other security measures throughout the school year.