Mission school district gets $367,000 security grant

MISSION — Schools in Mission last week received several hundred thousands of dollars in federal funding to tighten security within Mission CISD.

Awarded through the Department of Justice, the $367,374 grant from the COPS Office School Violence Prevention program will be used to improve security at schools throughout the district through evidence-based school safety programs.

Congressman Henry Cuellar presented the district with the grant at Escobar/Rios Elementary School on Monday.

“It is critical we do everything we can to ensure our schools are safe learning environments for all students,” Cuellar wrote in a statement. “By improving school security infrastructure and providing training to teachers, school administrators and law enforcement, we can prevent senseless and tragic violence in our community.”

At the presentation, Cuellar said that the funds should help the district prevent tragedies that have been seen elsewhere.

“These monies are to make sure that we have prevention and make sure that we prevent anything that we see in other places, because as a parent, we drop off a child, we put them in the hands of our educators at a school district, and we want to make sure that they’re safe,” he said. “Unfortunately, we don’t teach in a vacuum. Sometimes teachers have to be social workers, sometimes they have to be nurses, they have to be so many things at one time, and security is one of the other elements that have to be provided.”

Martin Castaneda, Mission CISD’s coordinator for safety and security, says that the money will be used primarily to purchase communications equipment.

“We’re hoping to apply to purchase a communication system, radios and emergency call buttons, to provide that on all of our campuses so we can have access to communicate with all of our first responders should an emergency arise,” he said.

Castaneda said security has become an important focus for districts nationally.

“It’s a priority for all school districts in light of recent events, not only within the state, but across the nation, where violence at schools has become prevalent,” he said. “Every school district is making efforts to either prevent or mitigate any acts of violence.”