North Texas Law Enforcement, School Leaders Shown School Safety Enhancements

Districts can apply for $400,000 as part of the Texas State Legislature's approved budget for safety improvements

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North Texas school leaders on Thursday got a preview of some of the security enhancements the Texas Education Agency is requiring in schools statewide.

The TEA is requiring glass doors and large windows to be reinforced with a window film. The standard thickness set by the state is 8 mil. (A mil is the unit of measurement describing the thickness of the product and 1 mil is equal to one-thousandth of an inch or .001 inch).

The entry-resistant film would be placed on glass entries that are large enough to allow someone to enter if broken.

Districts can apply for $400,000 as part of the Texas State Legislature's approved budget to replace or upgrade doors, windows, fencing, communications and other safety measures to get compliant with the new Texas school safety standards established in November of 2022.

With funding now on the table, school districts explore the resources needed for their campuses.

“If we can put preventative measures in place that can stop it or prevent it from, then that's what we need to do,” said Lynelle Sparks, the executive director of the Texas Association of School Resource Officers and school resource officer coordinator sergeant for the Hillsboro Independent School District.

On Thursday, she and other school representatives met in Dallas as part of their research for bids and requests for proposals to enhance safety measures.

Spark wanted to consider a film thicker than the state’s standard. She said a more durable film could give law enforcement a better chance to stop the intruder.

“Laminate can protect them, give them that extra time because we know that school shootings happen very quickly and most of those tragedies are within three minutes,” Sparks said. “It's three minutes for law enforcement that are not in there. So, if there's only one of us, it's still three more minutes. So, why not give that extra, protect it, and have laminate that can give us more time, more resources process to get there, to be able to protect them.”

The Arizona-based company Safe Haven Defense traveled to Dallas to showcase its product, which offers a range of thicknesses from 15 to 30 mil.

“Our window films can be applied to glass, any type of glass, whether it's single pane, quarter inch door open, quarter inch, 3/8 glass or half-inch thick glass,” said Steven Johnson, creator of Safe Haven Defense. “We also have a wall paneling for the inside of the front desks. The other window films in the market either require glass replacement; window frame replacement, but they cannot utilize the existing quarter-inch glass.”

School districts have until August of this year to submit a final plan and choose a contractor in order to meet the new TEA standards.

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