By J.D. Miles

PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – The Plano Independent School District wants to be a school safety standout by becoming the largest school district in North Texas with armed guards at every single campus. The sweeping changes proposed Tuesday night will not be cheap, but many believe that it is a necessity to keep students and staff members protected.

The armed private security officers could be present at every Plano school starting next year.

Superintendent Richard Matkin offered recommendations to improve security at all 72 campuses. The first idea would place two guards at the city’s three high schools, and one guard in every elementary school and middle school. That plan would cost $2.7 million each year. Matkin also proposed a less expensive plan that would still involve placing either private security guards or police officers in each school. “I view this as a necessity to have a safe environment,” Matkin said.

Parents seem to support the idea. “I wouldn’t put a price tag on the safety of any child,” said Plano parent Dan Sheco.

Plano schools have already been recognized as being among the most security-conscious in the nation — even before last month’s tragic shootings in Connecticut — with strict sign-in procedures, lockdown drills and panic buttons. But school board members said that these steps are still not enough to keep everybody safe. “I think we need someone who is a dedicated professional,” said Plano ISD trustee Nancy Humphrey, “and understands how to handle weapons.”

Any plans to use uniformed police officers would likely pull too many of them off the streets, so the school district is opting to hire private guards for the job. That would require dipping into the district’s reserve money, or increasing taxes. “I’m comfortable asking our taxpayers to pay more,” Plano ISD trustee David Stolle said, “if that’s what it comes down to.”

The school board will vote on the proposals in a future meeting.

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