Killeen ISD schools are not just safe schools. Now, they are Safe Places.
In partnership with Central Texas Youth Services, KISD is the first school district in the region to join the national Safe Place network, adding its 52 campuses to serve as community safe havens for children.
The Safe Place designation sign, visible on exterior windows and perimeter fencing, displays a yellow diamond shape with the words Safe Place and an image of a house.
Superintendent John Craft joined KISD School Safety Director Chuck Kelley, Chief of Police Ralph Disher and Central Texas Youth Services caseworker Darrell Ross in making an announcement Friday.
The partnership with KISD more than doubles the designated Safe Place sites in the area from 42 to 95, Ross said.
The nationwide service provides locations where children and teenagers can feel safe to enter and seek assistance.
While intended for youth, anyone in distress is welcome to enter a Safe Place.
Examples include situations at home where a child doesn’t feel safe or if a minor is a runaway either from this area or from another community and wants help. Some may just want to talk.
Killeen ISD campus staff members have been trained or are being trained to respond to people seeking assistance.
If required, staff members at a Safe Place location could contact the local youth shelter, which provides service for 11- to 17-year-olds in need or an agency such as Child Protective Services.
Central Texas Youth Services will be conducting outreach in the schools to familiarize students and parents with the Safe Place network.
After Craft and Ross explained Safe Place and its partnership with KISD, the superintendent answered media questions about the district’s continued efforts to ensure safety and overall preparation for the new school year.
The school district will use metal detectors randomly across the school district at campuses and at events such as athletics events.
School personnel will also be diligent to maintain locked doors. Police officers will continue to conduct intruder drills. Buzzer and camera systems are in place.
Craft said safety continues to be a communitywide effort that includes overall vigilance and situation awareness.
Answering other questions, the superintendent praised the Board of Trustees and the district’s Human Resources department for an aggressive approach to staffing that has KISD in far better shape than a year ago.
“We are much better staffed this year,” said Craft, noting that KISD has about 80 teacher vacancies, compared to more than 200 this time a year ago.
The district is also about 20 bus drivers short, compared with the usual 80 or so.