HISD beefs up security for new school year

August 23, 2010 4:12:59 PM PDT
Today, almost all local school districts are back in session, including HISD. HISD is the largest district in Texas and the 7th largest in the country. This year's projected enrollment is 202,000 children at the district's 298 schools. This year like every year, there are some major changes, including a longer school year for all students and ramped up security. The district has spent a lot of time and money making sure 'safety measure' is in place for the start of the school year. Now students will be coming back to school under the watchful eye of school security cameras.

In 2007, $90 million was set aside to install these cameras as part of a bond program. The schools installed or upgraded closed circuit television systems at 175 campuses and the school district's police department can monitor activity from their offices.

"We're up to about 8,100 cameras now," said HISD spokesperson Norm Uhl. "We've got most of the campuses covered. We have about 14 that aren't yet, but we're gonna be undergoing bond renovation and those will be installed at the time of the renovation."

Hundreds and thousands of others in HISD schools are being watched on new surveillance cameras, and monitored by district police. The cameras are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Police say schools are targets for crime at all hours of the day, and that all video is stored on a hard drive, so that it can be pulled for review even months after a crime is suspected.

"As long as we're doing it for the truth of security and not for the invasion of privacy, as long as that is the ultimate goal for the safety of our children, then yeah I approve," said parent James House.

Parents may soon notice new special fencing around the perimeter of your kids' schools and new safety measures will be taken outside schools.

And keeping the order outside are Houston police officers, tracking school zone speed limits and enforcing traffic laws when it comes to circumventing buses.

"People get kind of relaxed over the summer and then the first day of school, they get the HPD surprise," said Officer Richard Still with the Houston Police Department.

Some of the violations can run you up to $200.

Officers also used this opportunity as a refresher for children about stranger danger.

Also, a reminder for parents of students in HISD; the district reactivated its "Back to School" hotline to help you get your back to school questions answered. The number is 713-556-8900. The line is open from 9am to 4pm.

Not everyone is going back to school today. In Pasadena, only freshman have to report to class today. The rest of the district goes back tomorrow. It's the same case in La Porte.

But for kids in Deer Park, all of you have to report to class Monday morning.


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