Conroe ISD Add Safety, Security Upgrades with $1M Grant from TEA

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Conroe ISD adds safety, security upgrades with $1M grant from TEA

February 2, 2021

New blue light emergency call boxes, radios, and an upgrade to the districts visitor intake software are just a few of the items Conroe ISD purchased with a $1 million state grant over the past year.

Authorized by Senate Bill 500 from the 86th state Legislature, the 201921 School Safety and Security Grant set aside $100,000,000 to be distributed to school districts across the state for safety and security-related needs.

The bill outlines nine areas that districts could spend the money in: exterior doors with push bars; metal detectors; vehicle barriers; security systems that monitor and record hallways and exterior school doors; active-shooter alarm systems; two-way radio systems; perimeter fencing; impact-resistant glass; and door locking systems.

Ethan Barton, school safety coordinator for CISD, said that the district used the $1 million that was allocated to them to upgrade existing systems.

The fortunate part for us is that we used it to extend existing programs, just to bolster them,Barton said. We’re already ahead of the game and just used the money to make what we have already in place better. And of course to provide a safer environment not only for our kids but for anybody that comes through our buildings.

With the money, the district has been able to invest in multiple areas. Every campus in the district now has a hand-held metal detector; Raptor, the districts visitor management system, got a complete software and hardware upgrade; new perimeter fencing where needed; refreshed outdoor signage; and 18 new emergency call boxes. Impact-resistant glass is already built into the plans for future district facilities.

Emergency call boxes are not new to the district. Before the grant, the district already had several of the call boxes at district stadiums. Using the grant funds, the call boxes can now be found at all high school and ninth grade campuses, along with Moorehead.

When utilized, the call boxes connect the user directly to Conroe ISD Police. While the call is active, a fish-eye camera on the call box takes video of everything happening in the vicinity of the box. The district police can even use them as a public address system if necessary.

We would like for it to serve as a deterrent, to the extent possible be able to deter something from happening before it starts, said Chris McCord, executive director of operations for CISD.

So far, the district emergency call boxes have not been used for an emergency purpose.

The parameters of the grant helped the district narrow down what its priorities were for the funds. For Barton, the most important purchase was the upgrades for Raptor.

It’s used every single day, every single minute, at every one of our campuses, he said. Being able to do that software and hardware upgrade for all of our campuses was huge. So, we’re grateful for those funds to be able to do that, because without it its not that it wouldn’t have been done but its just a little bit more difficult.

Raptor is the system the district uses to screen visitors and create visitor badges. All visitors for the district must be run through Raptor and receive a badge.

The grant deadline was January of 2020 with the allocation of funds in the spring. The grant funds must be spent by May of 2021. Barton said most of the funds, if not all of them, have already been allocated. But these will likely not be the only security upgrades the district will address this year.

The district bond passed in 2019 also included a significant amount, $44.5 million, for safety needs.