Alpine ISD plans for new security system

Alpine ISD trustees are all smiles after being recognized for School Board Appreciation Month on Jan. 15 at the high school library. One of the tokens of appreciation was a signed greeting card from Alpine Elementary School students. In the photo, Rachel Llanez, Justin Cross, Eddie Natera, Mary McCallister, and Joe Portillo. 

At its Jan. 15 meeting, the Alpine ISD Board of Trustees heard Superintendent Becky McCutchen review expenditures for a Texas Education Agency 2019-2021 school safety and security grant that would pay for a shooter detection system at all three district campuses. McCutchen said the grant would cover at least $25,000 of the system’s $57,000 price tag, but was hoping to have the grant fully funded.

The shooter detection system is interfaced with law enforcement, and has sensors that would be placed in several areas at all campuses. The sensors would detect a gun shot, and automatically notify law enforcement, a response quicker than calling 911 or pressing a panic button.  

Said McCutchen, “This is the first time we have had this system, and we’re excited about having that extra layer of protection. Basic security is, and remains, a number one priority. We want to ensure that our students feel safe.”

In other business, Les Burke, senior architect with Midland firm Parkhill, Smith, and Cooper, provided an update on the new high school construction project. Burke brought construction drawings that included heating, ventilation, and air conditioning at the elementary and middle schools.

Trustee, Dist. 2, Joe Portillo asked about groundbreaking for the new high school, and Burke said it would take place in March or April, depending on bid and budget considerations. His goal was to have the new high school in place for summer 2021.

Derek Kaser, also with PSC, updated trustees on a citywide competition that would feature artwork representing Alpine. The artwork would be placed throughout the new school. Kaser said there would be meetings in the next several months with the student advisory committee to address details on art submissions.

After attending a board appreciation dinner, principals made campus data presentations. Elementary school Principal Verl O’Bryant said that although the elementary school was better off academically than last year, it still had work to do.

High school Principal Justin Gonzales made several positive announcements and said that after taking the preliminary SAT exam, five high school students were candidates for National Merit Scholarships.

Finally, trustees approved financing LED lighting fixtures through Frost Bank, a third-party financing institution, and CFO Tucker Durham said the plan was changed from seven to five years. The board also discussed paying for the project in a lump sum as an alternative to financing, and Durham indicated that it would be an option if the district did well financially in the upcoming year. Board Vice President Mary McCallister then moved to approve the Frost Bank lease proposal as presented, and all voted in favor.

The next regularly scheduled board of trustees meeting is set for Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 5:30 p.m. in the Administration Building Board Room.

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