CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In light of the Uvalde school shooting last year, it’s made everyone take another look at school safety. The administration at Tuloso-Midway Independent School District (TMISD) is looking to ramp up security in a couple of ways, but wanted to hear from parents as well.
“I don’t think there’s anything we do that’s as important as safety and security,” Superintendent Steve VanMatre said to kick off a public meeting Monday night.
All campuses have a committee that makes decisions. VanMatre has asked them to bring recommendations on safety and security.
For the Intermediate School, they unanimously voted for a clear backpack policy. The principal of the intermediate School Christina Trevino said they understand there is research out there that states clear bags don’t make life that much safer. But Trevino said it’s a step in the right direction for their campus.
“We have had a couple of instances where we found some things that shouldn’t have been brought,” she said. “And, a lot of times, they don’t know what they’re bringing to school. But, being able to do a quick check, making our students and our staff feel safe.”
Several parents have taken issue with the policy. One parent asked if this would increase thefts. Trevino said this policy will help students and parents see that valuable items shouldn’t be brought to school.
Another issue taken up is that the middle and high schools won’t have the same policy. At least one parent is concerned this will alienate those Intermediate School students. Staff said a reason this policy is only in the Intermediate School is that they are not traversing through the hallways going class to class like the other schools.
Students in Middle School and High School are more involved in extracurricular activities and often bring multiple bags. That’s why these schools are opting to limit entrance points and install metal detectors.
“When I was in Mathis as the assistant principal at the middle school, we started with a clear bag policy. Halfway through, we just stopped. Because we had bags coming in from band and from everywhere else. So, it just became a problem in itself,” Melanie Arias said, the Middle School principal.
The Middle School and High School are also installing vape detectors in all bathrooms. One school official said the metal detectors should be able to detect most vapes. These detectors won’t have video but will be able to pick up audio to pick up keywords. If a threat is detected, that can also be relayed to staff members. Cameras will be outside the rest room and should an emergency come up, staff can line up the times and see who exited the restroom at that time.
VanMatre said it is anticipated these changes will take some adjusting to and the start of the school day may be delayed for the first few days or weeks.
Parents in attendance learned more about how officers on campus are used. They were told the officers were not there to police the school, monitor metal detectors direct traffic. These officers’ main task is to be the first to respond if there is a threat to that campus.
VanMatre has added that new legislation has helped and hindered campus security. He said funding for these safety changes comes from a grant received at the end of the school year. Also, a new bill by the Texas Legislature is providing money. The bill requiring all schools to have an armed officer on campus, it states each school campus will receive $15,000 per campus and an additional $10 per student.
Some final decisions have not been made on these policies yet. One staff member said if metal detectors go into the schools, they may be in by the first day of school, July 17, or they may be ready by the end of July.
TMISD is modeling these changes off what schools like Calallen Independent School District and Gregory-Portland Independent School District have done in recent years. VanMatre said, like those districts, these changes will require fine tuning as time goes on.