Security is a concern for many parents in light of recent mass shootings, some of which have occurred on school campuses around the country.
Calcasieu Parish Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus told the Sulphur Rotary Club this week that each school in the district has a safety plan that faculty and staff continually practice.
"There is a very detailed plan for each school in binders," he said.
He said the plans are available to students, parents and law enforcement via Microsoft 365. Each student is given five free MS 365 accounts, which can be used on five separate devices.
Law enforcement agencies also have aerial and internal maps of each school to assist them if the need arises, he said.
All schools have buzz-thru entrances now and classroom doors have been re-keyed so that administrators and staff have a master key to fit all locks. Also, classroom doors can be locked from the inside without a key.
"It's a deterrent," he said. "Just like fencing. Is it going to stop everything? Odds are if somebody wants in bad enough, they'll get in. But everything that slows them down, means more time for law enforcement to respond."
Bruchhaus said every school in the parish now has high-definition cameras located in strategic positions — in hallways, parking lots, entryways and elsewhere. He said student privacy laws preclude the schools from placing cameras in classrooms.
Bruchhaus said the cameras came in handy during the recent vandalism at Barbe High School.
"I don't know if you noticed the quality of the pictures (from the school's cameras released to the media)," he said.
Bruchhaus said in the photos, the tattoo on one of the suspect's arms is very clear.
"His dad turned him in," he said. "Once we released the photos, within six hours we had a candidate."
Bruchhaus said an increase in sales tax revenues prompted the school board last year to allocate $50 million in capital outlay from the general fund, divided on a per student basis and placed in each bonding district.
"The one thing they all (school administrators) agreed to use their money on across the district was these cameras," Bruchhaus said. "Because of the security they offer and the discipline support they offer."
The cameras cost about $1.5 million for 60 locations.
Students are also building, from scratch, computers that will be used by resource officers to view the footage from the cameras in high resolution.
By mid-term, Bruchhaus said all parish buses will have cameras. He said there are cameras in around half the fleet, but the students won't know which half. He said the cameras are able to pick up footage from around the outside of the bus, which is useful in the event of traffic accidents.