School shootings plague the news nearly every month. There is no shortage of ideas about how to make schools safer, but the Woodrow Wilson High School community is taking the security of the school into its own hands.
Woodrow’s layout and the historical nature of the building make it especially difficult to secure. Students are filing in and out between portables and the main building through a number of doors, many of which are very old and don’t lock properly. The school is a historical building, so changing anything on the structure can be difficult.
Woodrow parent Nancy Wilson set out to make the high school safer, but her advocating for the district to add funding was fruitless. After speaking with trustee Dustin Marshall and Dallas ISD officials, she found that added security measures were in the long-term plan, but would have to come from the school’s already tight budget.
Wilson toured the school with Dallas Police officers, DISD officers and a third-party vendor that helps secure schools to identify the problem areas and figure out a way to make the building more secure. There was a front-door with one metal detector for 1,900 students, causing a backlog of students trying to enter the building. Other doors around campus were not closed properly, with others remaining open to facilitate flow between the building and portables.
Wilson and a committee of parents, teachers and community members came up with a plan. They received approval from school leadership to raise money for a number of security measures that will be installed in the school. “If the district isn’t going to fund it, it has to become a community matter,” she said.
The plan is for a buzzer entry system that will make the front-door more secure, while the door to the portables and the door nearest to the teachers’ parking lot would be locked with a key card entry system. Other doors would be kept locked.
While not perfect, the system would allow teachers to access the building at any time, which is beneficial for those who come home late or leave early for extracurricular activities. It would allow the door to remain locked to anyone else. The door to the portables can be put on a timer so that it is open during passing periods. Teachers can use their card as a hall pass if the students need to come inside for the restroom during class. The next phase would be adding key card entries to other doors in the new wing of the school.
The installation will have to abide by historical building regulations, which make any changes to the structure difficult. But for Wilson, it is worth the effort. “I don’t want to be on the news, and I don’t want my school to be on the news,” she says.
It would be an improvement on the porous nature of the building as it is now, but it isn’t cheap. The systems cost around $25,000, and Wilson and others are partnering with the Woodrow Wilson Community Foundation to raise the money, meaning donations to this cause will be tax deductible. Donate here to help raise the funds and when asked, make a note that the money should go to “Woodrow Wilson Security.” Checks with the same phrase in the memo are also welcome. The goal is to have the security measures installed by the beginning of the next school year.
“We are very fortunate to be a part of this community, and if there is anything we can do and have the resources, we should do it,” Wilson says. “I want people to see that our campuses are not secure and they should be.”
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