KINGSVILLE, Texas — Schools in Kleberg County met Wednesday to put together a school safety plan and they are working on a deadline.
The plan is not finished yet, and while there is some time before the next school year starts, there isn’t a lot. One thing is certain; Kleberg County school districts have an urgent summer assignment: school safety.
“We’re going to stop at nothing until we ensure the safety of our students,” said Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid.
Keeping four very different districts safe is what's on Kleberg County's summer syllabus.
“Now’s the time that we start to put together a strategic plan that ensures the safety of all our children before day number one of school,” Madrid said.
Madrid is committed to making sure schools are safe. School security is currently at the front of everyone's minds in the wake of the Uvalde mass shooting which left 21 dead.
“This shouldn’t have been the catalyst,” said Riviera ISD Superintendent Patricia Thornton.
With only 438 students, Riviera ISD is Kleberg county's smallest district, roughly seven times smaller than Kingsville ISD. Riviera schools already have security fencing and a video doorbell-controlled gate.
“Security is number one, it always has been,” Thornton said.
And starting next year, like every other district in the county, Riviera ISD will employ an armed school resource officer. Something once unheard of for a district of Riviera’s size.
“It’s a sad situation but we have to quickly recognize that in spite of the pain, we have to do something,” Thornton said.
According to Thornton, Riviera ISD is also considering using School Guardians, teachers carrying concealed weapons anonymously. She also recognizes the urgency for having a comprehensive plan.
“It is something that has to be done and should have been done yesterday,” Thornton said.
In addition to Kingsville and Riviera, Kleberg County is also home to the Santa Gertrudia and Ricardo school districts. All four superintendents learned the Kleberg County Specialized Crimes Task Force would pay for an alert system for all county schools which would notify authorities in case of an emergency.
As far as School Resource Officers, Santa Gertrudis currently has $36,000/year budgeted for the position. Superintendents from Ricardo and Riviera said they’ll use that number as a starting point in their search.
All four superintendents recently met with Tex. Rep. J.M. Lozano to voice their concerns, and to ask the legislature for more money for school security when the next session starts in 2023.