As classes resume for students all over the nation, school security is on everyone’s mind. Diboll is no exception, and DISD trustees and administrators have taken specific steps to guarantee safety for all students.
With the help of funds from the Thomas T. Keeler Grant Program, new cameras and monitoring systems have been put in place to accomplish this goal.
“We already had up-do-date systems at the new elementary/intermediate campus, and we updated the primary school equipment when we renovated that campus,” said Gary Martel, DISD Superintendent. “But, we needed an upgrade on the high school and junior high campuses.”
Martel explained that these campuses had security cameras in place, but they were older, analog types. The new system incorporates web-based technology in which each camera has its own IP address. Thus, it can be accessed on a computer by administrators and public safety officials to immediately pinpoint, in real time, an area in question or during a crisis.
“This way the police can monitor the campus at any time, and administrators can have access from home after hours,” Martel said. “If an incident were to ever occur, responders would know exactly where to go in any building.”
The new cameras have much clearer focus than the old ones, he said. Because some of them cover a 360-degree area, and because the number has increased from 32 to 45 cameras, there are fewer blind spots on the campuses.
The DISD Board of Trustees had already approved more than $200,000 for the security system upgrade. The Keeler grant of $97,000 meant that the school district only had to make up the remainder of the total, resulting in considerable savings in school funds.
Grants from the Keeler Program are made in honor of Thomas T. Keeler and his wife Cora and in memory of his grandfather T.L.L. Temple and his mother Marquerite Temple Payne. They are given to organizations which seek to enhance the educational, social, and physical qualities of life within the community in the areas of education, health, community and social services, cultural arts, and the humanities.
“Obviously, we want to be proactive,” Martel said. “This system gives us much better monitoring capability which is an asset not only when dealing with a threat to safety but also as a deterrent to misbehavior by students and a tool for maintaining discipline.”
School buses in the district have the new cameras, too. Their presence frees the driver to concentrate on the road more completely and eliminates the need to place another adult on board to monitor riders’ behavior. Martel added future technology will allow for the data from each trip to be automatically downloaded when the bus pulls back into the bus yard. Consequently, nobody will have to manually conduct the process, and the information will always be accessible, he said.
The new security system also includes keyless access to the buildings. Each employee has an access card which must be used to open exterior doors, and anyone without a card must be buzzed in by office workers after they have been identified via camera. In addition, school personnel can check from one location to see that all doors are locked. They can tell from a computer screen if a particular area is not secure.
A final step in the security upgrade was the installation of a programmable gate on the back parking lot at the high school campus to allow traffic to be diverted to the front of the building for proper identification.