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Austin ISD Officials Say More Can Be Done To Keep Students Safe
Authorities continue to surround an underground bunker in Alabama Thursday night where a gunman is holding a five-year-old boy hostage. The boy was dragged off his school bus Tuesday afternoon after the gunman shot and killed the bus driver, who refused to hand over a child. Officials say the child has not been hurt.
We wanted to know what is being done to keep your kids safe on Central Texas school buses and spoke with Kris Hafezi, the Transportation Director for the Austin Independent School District. "When kids ride our buses, their safety, their security is the number one thing, parents expect that from us," he says.
Hafezi says AISD spends close to $100,000 a year for safety and security on school buses. Most of that money is spent on training for staff and how to deal with dangerous scenarios. But even Hafezi admits they can always use more.
As a whole the AISD spends 1.5 percent of their budget on safety and security. The AISD Police Department is only a portion of that, with 68 officers covering about 120 campuses. AISD Police Chief Chris Mendez says, "We can only provide the resources based on the budget that we have, since Connecticut and other recent tragic events, we're looking at ways to enhance security services and our police officers."
There is also a bond request to help add security enhancements to facilities, like camera systems or structural changes to help with security. But even with those changes, are kid's safe and can a tragedy be avoided? Chief Mendez says, "we all try to do whatever we can to train the employees to give enough tools to deal with that but preventing those kinds of situations, it's kind of impossible sometimes."
By Lydia Pantazes