Shawnee Mission Schools make plans to amp up security measures

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SHAWNEE MISSION, Kan. -- From surveillance cameras to fences, Shawnee Mission Schools want to amp up security district-wide; but they'll need your help to do it.

District leaders held the first of five town hall meetings Monday night at Shawnee Mission South to get parent feedback and explain how much desired safety measures would cost.

A little more than a dozen parents showed up for a presentation on a new emergency operations plan.

"Nobody reacts to anything unless something big and terrible happens," said mother of three Rachel Moore of school safety measures. "But we don't think about all the different little things that happen every day that aren't a Newtown or aren't a Columbine."

Former Overland Park top cop and current district Safety and Security Director John Douglass laid out the details of the new plan.

"I can't think of anything worse than to have something eventful happen in a school," he said, "So we're going to work our buns off to make sure that doesn't happen."

Douglass said so far 16 schools have received upgrades, ranging from new fencing, to digital surveillance cameras and buzz-in systems.

"{The plan} covers all kinds of things," he explained. "From how do we handle an intruder? How do we handle a situation where we need to lock down a school? How do we handle a sexual assault that's occurred somewhere?"

He said they're making progress, but nearly 30 schools remain in need. Those improvements will depend on voter approval of a $223 million bond issue in January, which Douglass said will not require a property tax increase.

"It allows us, with our resources, to borrow money in advance and to make the improvements we need," he said. "Both security-wise, facilities-wise, program-wise, it allows us to do all of those things without costing more money from the taxpayer."

Douglass said if they get the bond issue, security improvements could be in place by the end of next summer. If not, it could take up to six years to make them happen.

If you're a parent with questions, the next town hall meeting will be at Shawnee Mission West on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

For more information on the meetings, CLICK HERE.