No longer defenseless: Rural area school districts arm staff, increase security

Smaller school districts not taking any chances

By Erica Hernandez - Digital Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - Last school year will be remembered as one of the deadliest ever. According to Education Week, there were 14 school shootings with injuries and deaths, totaling 32 people slain, 26 of them students.

All around South Texas, you can find many small school districts in rural cities and counties. The majority of these schools were built as open campuses since some buildings were shared by all students, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

With the increase in mass shootings over the past couple of years, these schools, which don't have district police departments, are having to rethink the way things are done and increase security. Some of these schools are even arming staff.

 

Jourdanton ISD

With just over 1,600 students, Jourdanton ISD is located in Atascosa County.

For the past several years, the district has been preparing for any kind of emergency.

In 2012, with the help of a grant, the district made "Go-Cans" for each classroom. The cans include many essential items one might need in case of emergency, including flashlights, first-aid kits and MREs.

Besides the cans, the district a few years ago added a school resource officer, or SRO. 

Over the summer, fencing was also added around the entire campus complex and every exterior door entrance has been changed and is locked automatically.

"Students know we are here to help them and know we would protect them," Superintendent Theresa McAllister said.

 

Poth ISD 

With just over 800 students, Poth ISD is located in Wilson County. 

Poth ISD has also been an open campus, as all students share some of the same buildings, including the cafeteria, library and gyms. 

After the shootings last year in Sutherland Springs and at Santa Fe High School, administration and school board members agreed it was time to improve security at their campuses.

Over the summer, the entrance at the middle school was redone, and at all entrances, controlled access doors were added. New lockdown-mode capabilities were also added, as well as bullet-resistant film on certain entrance windows.

While Poth will have armed Wilson County deputies on campus at all times, the school board approved the school becoming a part of the Guardian Program, which allows certain staff members and/or teachers to be armed. Those who are chosen receive active shooter training and are licensed to carry.

"We didn't want to be defenseless, and so the guardians are there to act as protection for students and staff," Superintendent Paula Renken said.

 

Across Texas

According to the Texas Association of School Boards, 225 school districts in Texas now allow teachers and/or staff to carry guns on school property. The majority of these schools are in rural areas. 

In early June, Gov. Greg Abbott implemented the School and Firearm Safety Action Plan and gave immediate opportunities to improve campus security.

Overall, there are about three dozen strategies that can be implemented.

School districts in KSAT 12 viewing area that allow teachers and/or staff to carry a gun:

Goliad ISD

Poth ISD

Stockdale ISD

Nixon-Smiley Consolidated ISD

Utopia ISD

Brackett ISD

Hunt ISD

Nueces Canyon Consolidated ISD

Rocksprings ISD

Harper ISD

George West ISD

**There are no districts in Bexar County that allow teachers and/or staff to carry guns.

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