Over the past year, Taylor ISD has made strides in safety and security within the district. At Wednesday night's Pints, Politics & Culture, board president Marco Ortiz said the trustees have been monitoring safety for some time now. Once the board makes a decision, they expect the administration to follow through.
"We are a board of oversight and governance. We're not a managing board," Ortiz said. "We don't micromanage the superintendent [Keith Brown]. We tell him what we want . . . and we leave it up to his experience to implement that."
Ortiz said Brown is like the CEO of the district, and he manages what the board asked him to do.
Ortiz said when the board told Brown what they wanted a sharper focus on security, he implemented a plan, including a second school resource officer at the campuses.
Ortiz said the district runs drills throughout the school year for active shooter scenarios and more.
"The students are actually absorbing it and retaining it, and that's positive to see," Ortiz said.
He said Taylor ISD has a good relationship with the city, fire and police department, which helps maintain security within the school district.
Ortiz briefly talked about the security system, which the police have access to and can see the cameras on campuses. This gives officers an idea of what is going on when they arrive on the scene.
"If you're not reading what's going on in our country today, then you're not up to current events," Ortiz said about what prompted the focus on security.
He said school shootings in Texas and Florida made the board want to make sure Taylor students were safe.
"We wanted to make sure we had process and procedures in place in the event something should happen," he said. "We wanted the community to understand those procedures in place and wanted to make sure we worked with the city. So we could all work together and come one community."
While talking about security, Ortiz addressed, as much as he could, about the controversy at Legacy Early College High School earlier this year involving a student who made threats on campus and a popular principal.
"It goes deeper than your local school board. These are situations where the federal and state legislatures have put in place at the education code," he said. "We have to do our due diligence on any situation with students . . . We need to make sure our superintendent is enforcing those state regulations."
He said because of the FERPA (Family Education Rights of Privacy Act) law, there's a lot the district cannot discuss about students, parents and employees of the district.
"The answers given may not be what the community expects, but again, we are holding our superintendent accountable to keeping us within the regulations that the state and federal government has put in place," Ortiz explained.
Ortiz also took a moment to give his elevator pitch to why students should come to Taylor.
"It's the district of choice," he said.
He highlighted a few things in the district that standout such as the band, the choirs, Academic Decathlon and the Top Flight Cafe at the high school.
Pints, Politics & Culture is a live interview on the stage at the Texas Beer Co. It is also streamed live on the Taylor Press’ Facebook page (@gotaylortx), then curated on the paper’s website.
This edition of Pints, Politics & Culture was underwritten by The Greater Taylor Chamber of Commerce.