Round Rock ISD’s 2018 Bond proposal includes nearly $30 million for upgrades to safety and security districtwide. One of those upgrades would be a video intercom system at each campus which requires every visitor to be granted entry through a locked front door after office staff are able to screen both visually and audibly. The system has been piloted at Westwood High School beginning last spring.
The video intercom system increases security for staff and students, according to Mario De La Rosa, Round Rock ISD’s director of safety and security.
“Westwood is a big school, and it really limits access to the campus,” De La Rosa said. “Because it was so successful, our goal is to install the video intercom system at every other campus, including some non-educational facilities.”
“Round Rock ISD takes safety and security very seriously,” added De La Rosa, a former law enforcement and FBI official. “It is paramount—we want our students and staff safe, and we are taking measures to always improve security and safety.”
De La Rosa says the District might try some things as a pilot, but if a tool proves to be valuable, the District wants to expand it and standardize it. “Anything we put in place in one school is going to be put in place at the others, as well.”
Bond money would also go toward installation and the replacement of surveillance cameras.
“Video surveillance systems have become an integral part of school safety,” De La Rosa said. “We have about 2,700 surveillance cameras, which at any given time are recording throughout the day and night. Cameras have an end of life; they need to be refreshed, especially exterior cameras because of weather conditions, so there’s always a need to be replacing cameras.”
Plans call for adding more cameras for surveillance outside portables, and those can be costly to install because of the need to add wiring where it doesn’t currently exist.
Inside portables, the District wants to install panic buttons. Portables in Round Rock ISD have telephones, but a panic button would allow teachers to notify law enforcement and administrators of an emergency with just the press of a button.
The District is also hoping to implement an emergency notification system to send out one-way broadcasts to large groups of people. The system would allow an alert or bad weather update to go to staff computers, students and to all LCD panels in the school, so that everyone could get the notification at the same time.
Other safety and security measures in the Bond proposal include:
- Add a student and staff badging system
- Update public address systems
- Replace outdated fire alarms
- Implement an access control system
- Upgrade the visitor management system
- Install burglar alarm and intrusion detection systems
- Install a bus management system that includes GPS and video surveillance
De La Rosa points out that the Round Rock ISD already has been doing many of the things on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s 40-point plan for school safety in Texas. He said he gets many calls from other districts that want to know more about the District’s security measures.
“Here at Round Rock ISD, we believe we’re ahead of the curve,” he said. “We have a lot of things in place that have been in place for quite a while; however, there’s always room for improvement, and we’re doing that.
Round Rock ISD is seeking voter approval for $508.4 million Bond. The Bond is not expected to raise the District’s tax rate, which is at a 30-year low. Additional Bond projects include replacement districtwide of HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems, roofing, flooring and paving; installation of new playground equipment and shade structures; resurfacing of tracks and replacing turf fields; building a new elementary school to relieve crowding; building several classroom additions to replace portables; and a significant investment in renovations at McNeil and Westwood high schools.