The Houston School District is getting a half million dollar federal grant to improve the district’s emergency preparedness, and beef up safety on HISD campuses. Houston Public Radio’s Jim Bell reports.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Education will allow HISD to review and update emergency response and crisis management plans, and train administrators, employees, students and parents in emergency procedures. Emergencies like the recent school shootings call for high level security measures and procedures, and Assistant HISD Police Chief Randy Rendon says that’s why they’re always working to improve campus safety.
“What we’re looking at is providing training for administrators, for some of the first responders that would have to respond to an emergency, to include intruders on campuses. We have had that ongoing for a long time now, even since 9-11, but it’s always good to go back and revisit some of those procedures.”
Rendon says campus security is always their top priority, with or without federal grants. Generally, he says HISD will use the grant on a wide range of security related functions.
“Training, dissemination of information, reproduction of documents that include the emergency management plan. And also there’s an allotment of money — 56 thousand dollars — toward the purchase of a command post vehicle used for improvement of communications with local law enforcement.”
In fact, poor communication between police agencies was one of the glaring failures during the Hurricane Rita evacuation last year. Rendon says HISD will use some of the federal money to eliminate that problem once and for all.
“In the case of an emergency, time is of essence, so it’s important that messages get put out, accurate information gets disseminated, and that we have a working flow of information, so this is going to help us tremendously. It’s going to be a great improvement to what we already have.”
HISD is one of 74 school districts around the country getting these grants under the federal government’s emergency response and crisis management program. The HISD Board is expected to vote today to accept the grant. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.