WACO, Texas (FOX 44) – The Waco Independent School District is continuing to ensure the safety of students and staff with a $1.5 million grant.
The district says this comes as people are awaiting the outcome of Texas House Bill 2. This would establish and fund two school safety grant programs to help pay for security personnel, protective fencing, metal detectors and mental health prevention – among other school safety measures,
The 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. Waco ISD 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.
The Texas Legislature announced $400 million in funding to the TEA last fall. This will assist school districts in replacing or upgrading doors, windows, fencing, communications, and other safety measures. Waco ISD applied for grant money detailing the various methods that the district would expend the money to ensure the safety of students and staff.
The district says that nearly half of the funding, $317,916, was used to purchase and install fencing specifically at the elementary schools of Cedar Ridge, Mountainview and Hillcrest. 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. If the fencing is gated, it must be equipped with emergency exits.
The second largest expense was adding security film to windows and glass doors at all Waco ISD schools that did not already have it in place at a cost of $237,951.35. Under the new TEA safety requirements, doors with windows which are located on the ground level of the school or windows that are adjacent to or near a door and are large enough to allow someone to enter if broken must be reinforced with entry-resistant film unless they are in a secured area such as behind fencing.
Another $44,000 was spent on entrance doors and nearly $64,000 on exterior doors which include classroom doors and portable doors. The new school safety standards require doors to remain closed and locked, as well as allow for emergency exit, such as with a crash bar, from the inside while remaining locked.
The district says the maintenance staff has nearly completed installing the safety measures funded by the $658,365 grant, and is looking forward to working through the $1.5 million grant the district just received.
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 9-1-1 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.