Prior to the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, only one school in the state of Texas had a policy to allow teachers to carry a concealed handgun. However, after the tragedy in Connecticut numerous schools across the state began to explore options for better protecting their students.
With the passage of the Protection of Children Act, schools were given the option of designating one employee per 400 students as a school Marshall. This gave schools a fourth option for school security. School Districts can utilize uniformed police officers, they can allow employees with a concealed handgun license to carry their guns on campus or they can choose to adopt no formal policy.
After months of discussion, the Bryson Independent School District board of trustees has approved a policy to allow designated employees to carry a concealed handgun on campus. The primary consideration for this policy is the fact that Bryson is located in a somewhat isolated area that could impact the response time for law enforcement officers in the event of an emergency.
The board will authorize certain individuals as candidates for the program. If the selected candidates are interested, they will be required to secure a concealed handgun license. The training required of the selected individual will be much more extensive than just the license. The participants in the program will receive extensive training in crisis intervention, management of hostage situations, weapon safety and other areas that are pertinent to the carrying of a gun on school property. The selected individuals will continue to receive training to ensure the necessary skills are maintained.
Superintendent David Stout was very complimentary of the decision made by the Board of Trustees as he commented, "I applaud our board for their dedication and efforts to make the Bryson ISD a safer place for our students, staff and visitors. I also applaud our board for the process they used to enact this policy. The process was extensive, included much research, debate, and discussion with all stakeholders and has been thoroughly considered and created to add to the safety of our students, staff and visitors to the Bryson ISD."
In another move to bolster the security of students and the facilities at Bryson, the board accepted a proposal from PC Net to install surveillance cameras throughout the campus that will allow the school to be monitored at all times. Representatives from PC Net explained that the cameras would be digital so it would be "just like watching TV".
The video feed can also be accessed from any designated remote login. This would allow school officials, law enforcement or any other
designee to view the video feed whenever they needed to. The system is also designed to be expanded as technology increases, It was also noted that there would not be cameras in the classrooms. The total cost of the proposal will be $64,868 and will be paid from school bond funds.
The Board also elected to fill the seat vacated when trustee Jennifer Neal moved out of the school district with former School board member Mike Brooks. The seat that Brooks will fill expires in June, 2014.
A proposal from superintendent David Stout to institute a scholarship program that would reimburse students for their tuition expenses incurred while taking dual credit classes was also discussed. Bryson currently has articulation agreements in place that allow students to take on line courses through Weatherford College or online or face to face classes At North Central Texas College. Mr. Stout recommended that any student who earns a C or higher in a dual credit class, maintains at least a 97% attendance rate at Bryson and, avoids major disciplinary incidents be reimbursed for the cost of enrolling in a dual credit class. Each class costs approximately $300 and a student may enroll in up to three classes each semester. The annual cost of this program was estimated to be between $10,000 and $15,000. After a lengthy discussion, the Board elected to postpone a decision on the program until the first of August when the school will have the necessary information to study preliminary budget numbers and how a scholarship program would impact those budget numbers.
After a discussion in executive session, the Board set superintendent David Stout's annual salary at $90,000. No other personnel action was taken by the Board.
In other action the Bryson School Board decided to further study the implications of adopting a recycling plan. The Board also authorized the Superintendent and his staff to develop a vision statement for the District. The Superintendent updated the Board on the accomplishments of goals they had set for themselves. The Board was also updated on the progress of achieving the objectives set forth in the District Improvement Plan. Mr. Stout felt that the school had made great progress in improving the level of instruction in the school and the communication with the public. He also told the Board that he regretted that the school had not achieved the goal of training the staff on issues relevant to the understanding of issues faced by families in the Bryson ISD but did comment that plans are already in place for this training.
The Board also elected to take no action on a proposed agreement with LBL architects to provide services for the field house project.