Local school districts plan to review safety measures in light of Texas shooting

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 7:06 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Local school districts here and around the nation are reacting to the Texas tragedy.

Many superintendents sent letters focused on emotional support and campus safety in their own schools.

The Sunnyside superintendent is one of them.

Though the school year ended Wednesday in Sunnyside, the superintendent sent a letter out early afternoon to parents.

Steve Holmes provided assurances that the district will be reviewing safety protocols over the summer similar to what other districts are planning.

He wrote, “School should and must be a place where students feel comfortably safe and secure. As such school safety remains a top priority for our school district. We will be working throughout the summer with our district security team, in close collaboration with law enforcement, to review our safety protocols in an effort to continuously improve the security of our campuses. This is a review that happens every summer as part of our preparations for the opening of schools in August.”

Sunnyside has had heightened security measures and technology in place for years.

To start, there are wrought iron fences impossible to scale, gates and guard shacks at some schools, similar to other districts in Southern Arizona.

Their purpose in part is to help keep dangerous intruders out.

“There’s one entry way no matter where the person parks on our campus or where they come in,” Security Director Ryan Powell explained.

And if they do, there are 500 cameras spread across 22 campuses, which were installed years ago using some of a voter approved multimillion dollar bond.

There had been wall full of monitors in a central building back then, but that’s changed.

Though the cameras are not monitored 24/7, they’re still a critical tool during a crisis.

“We can turn cameras on and find out where people are at, where help needs to be,” he said.

The schools have intercom systems and social media systems to blast urgent messages, but Powell says what really sets the district apart is the relationships they built with local law enforcement to deal with any danger that might exist.

“Tucson Police has provided us with radios and access to their radio system, said Powell, “So we do have radios that we carry that we listen to the radio traffic all day long and so we get it immediately so we know what’s going on.”

They also can talk to the officers without having to call 911.

“We have our own radio call signals that we can talk. So we can talk to officers and give them up to date information with what’s happening,” he explained.

Powell says security and safety for students and staff is always evolving, technology is constantly advancing, and there’s something new to have to combat.

The tragedy in Texas set a different vibe in the school district on Wednesday.

“What’s kind of beefed up today is that it’s kind of reset everyone and know that we have good policies in place or procedures are strong,” Powell said.

But, he said, there’s always room for improvement. “Better software, better applications and getting those new tools that are out there.”

A Sunnyside school is one of three locations for “active shooter” sessions this the summer.

The Pima County sheriff’s department is holding 3 training workshops for staff at any Southern Arizona school.

They’re designed to help staff develop critical thinking skills during high stress situations.

The dates and locations are:

June 6th - June 10th: Mica Mountain High School

June 27th – July 1st: Pima Community College Northwest Campus

July 11th- July 15th – Gallego Intermediate School

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