Following a request from the Sharyland ISD Board of Trustees, administration has plans to install guard shacks and fences to cover all eight elementary campuses and parking lots.
The district is still in the early stages, but according to Executive Director of Maintenance Mark Dougherty, SISD is looking at installing 6-foot ornamental fencing. The new barrier structure would tie into the existing chain link fence on campus.
Ornamental fencing comes in several styles, such as wrought iron, glass, aluminum, PVC, bamboo, wood and vinyl. The cost varies depending on the medium and labor, but SISD estimated the project would be $750k.
Although the state recommends an 8-foot hurricane or chain link fence, officials have no issue with lower ornamental fences.
“Their thought is, it’s hard to climb [ornamental fences],” Dougherty said at the Jan. 18 special meeting. “And also, aesthetically, we don’t want the campuses to look like a prison.”
The linear measurement to cover the eight elementary campuses is 7,200 feet. Most campuses have adequate gating, so only a few need the upgrades. The district does not plan to replace the existing fencing; the new one will outline the front and parking lot areas.
But Dougherty said there is an ongoing discussion with the Texas Education Agency regarding the new fencing requirements. Most districts have 6-foot hurricane fences and would need new fencing to meet the 8-foot recommendation, but the cost is an issue, and schools are pushing back statewide.
According to a November 2022 article on Angi, the average cost for an 8-foot chain link fence is $12-$34 per square foot. Additional costs to consider are thickness, gating and labor.
Sharyland ISD is still discussing specifics for its project and does not have a final cost.
Additionally, the district plans to add guard shacks to every parking lot at the elementary campuses. Administration suggested splitting the parking lot into two designated areas — staff parking and public parking. The guard shacks would sit in the public parking area. Armed security guards would man the structure, costing the district an extra $186k.
Trustee Jose “Pepe” Garcia asked if the security upgrades were a response to Sharyland ISD’s recent intruder detection audit. Superintendent Dr. Maria Vidaurri said the district already had plans to install new fencing and guard shacks based on feedback from a town hall meeting that occurred earlier in the school year.
Last semester Sharyland ISD had at least one campus undergo state-mandated intruder detection audits. The Texas School Safety Center conducts the inspections and determines if unauthorized individuals can enter campus grounds and buildings.
SISD did not discuss the details of the audit or the results. However, Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services Pamela Montalvo said the district had to “put corrective actions and plans in place where needed.”
Sharyland ISD has ongoing HVAC upgrades in various stages at several campuses. Despite lengthy wait times and shortages, subcontractors began construction at Shimotsu Elementary and Wernecke Elementary over the winter break.
Shimotsu Elementary had new equipment installed in the library, cafeteria and kitchen areas. Workers have moved to the office area as of Jan. 23. The project at Wernecke is also running smoothly. Dougherty said he anticipates substantial completion dates for both campuses in June and July.
The new John H. Shary Elementary parking lot is in the final stages of construction and is near completion. At the Jan. 23 school board meeting, Dougherty said the project should be done by the end of February. In the meantime, SISD administration is working on a new traffic plan which they will release to the public in the coming weeks. Dougherty said the plan might change if needed.
Sharyland upgraded the John H. Shary parking lot to alleviate traffic problems during pick-up and drop-off hours. Vehicles would form a line along the two-lane Glasscock Road and back up into 495 E. Griffith Parkway, creating a bottleneck effect and pedestrian hazard. Before construction, Dougherty said there would be up to 200 cars waiting in traffic. Even though the new parking lot won’t be a cure-all, the district projects the expansion should get 75 vehicles off the street during rush hour.
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