Alpine ISD launches new safety measures as school year begins

(First in a series)

ALPINE – A new school year is to begin at Alpine ISD on Monday August 20, students entering the three campuses will be met with a number of new safety measures.

Two years ago, a 14-year old freshman shot and killed herself after shooting and wounding another female student at Alpine High School. In the midst of the confusion that followed, a number of law enforcement officials rushed to the scene and a US marshal accidently shot a Homeland Security agent, this incident and others across the country prompted the school district to rethink their safety measures.

“Last year I met with the parents, they had concerns for school safety, the things we implemented are a result of these meetings,” said Superintendent Becky Mc-Cutchen.

The school district is implementing a myriad of safety measures, including handheld metal detectors at the entrances of each campus, panic buttons, a card swipe system, monitored points of entry, two full-time school resource officers, positioned at the middle school and high school, a rotating third officer from the Brewster County Sheriff’s office at the elementary school while Alpine ISD looks to hire a full-time SRO for the campus. The school

district is also hoping to hire a licensed professional counselor to serve the social and emotional needs of the students, but they have yet to receive an applicant, according to McCutchen. The school will also be enrolled in a four-hour course known as the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events training, as well as participating in a yearly active shooter drill.

In the first half of 2018, there were on average one school shooting a week. This has prompted a discussion on whether or not schoolteachers should be armed. A recent Alpine Avalanche poll showed that 48% of respondents believe that arming teachers is the first-line of defense against a potential disaster, 33% of respondents believe guns had no place in the classroom.

This sentiment is reflected in the teachers at Alpine ISD, an internal survey showed that the majority of teachers were in favor of arming teachers, according to Superintendent McCutchen. “At our next board meeting that policy will be up to vote, “ said McCutchen. ”If the board members approve the change, that will be the first step to arms teachers or administrators on campus.”

The first day of school is on Monday, August 20th .

Next week: safety in the Presidio, Marfa, and Fort Davis schools.