Ray Villeda, NBC 5 News
The Dallas Independent School District spent $4.5 million and spent five months making its campuses as safe as possible as 143,000 students returned to school Monday.
An estimated 900 students are walking through the doors of “opportunity” – as is inscribed in the floor -- at the brand new Dade Middle School on Grand Avenue in Dallas.
“We’re excited and a little nervous, because it’s a new school, a big school,” says Grandmother Regina Gowans.
“Very happy about the first day of school,” says Dade seventh grader, Brentavia Bryant.
It’s an exciting opening day at Dade Middle for students and parents, who are ready to wrap up the summer.
“Happy! The other three kids are at school, now she’s on her way,” said one Dade Middle School mother.
“If you set high expectations for children on the first day of school, they’re going to step up,” says Dade Middle School Principal, Alecia Cobb.
Cobb walked Superintendent Mike Miles through the new 216,000 square-foot school. Miles touted plans for continued accountability.
“I think there’s no controversy about kids being in the classroom and the instruction that needs to happen,” said Miles.
There is plenty of controversy surrounding Superintendent Miles, as he kicks off his second year on the job. Right now, he's under investigation for allegedly blocking a vendor contract and a district investigation. Miles has been banned by the board from talking about it.
“You know I can't talk about that, but I can't talk about this year is going to be a great school year I think the victory again is in the classroom I think our kids are going to be ready our teachers are ready, our principals are ready,” said Miles.
There are more than 60 new principals in the district after Miles implemented a new evaluation system last year.
“There is an air of skepticism, and anticipation to see what this year will bring to what they experienced last year,” says Alliance AFT President Rena Honea.
Also new this year, parents and students will see $4.5 million of stepped up security. Live cameras at all DISD high schools, buzzers and camera systems at elementary schools, peep hole devices on portable buildings, and ten new Dallas ISD police officers are joining the effort to keep students safe.
"Certainly we've done a lot of active shooter training with our officers," said Dallas ISD Police Chief Craig Miller. "But the day-to-day safety concerns -- how people get on the campus and in the door -- is the focus of what we're looking at."
Chief Miller said he's opposed to arming Dallas teachers in order to let educators focus on teaching students while his officers focus on their safety.