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Alamo Heights ISD school board approves additional resource officers

District administrators tell KENS 5 that following the mass shooting in Uvalde, more parents called in to inquire about school security.

ALAMO HEIGHTS, Texas — Security changes are on the way for most San Antonio school districts as students head back to class.

In Alamo Heights, they're adding more school resource officers.

District administrators tell KENS 5, following the tragedy in Uvalde, more parents called in to inquire about school security.

Wednesday in a special-called meeting, the Alamo Heights ISD school board approved expanding the district's SRO team by two officers.

Now, the search begins for the perfect candidates.

RELATED: How San Antonio school districts' safety procedures have changed after Uvalde

"We're gonna make sure we find the right fit before we start," said Dr. Frank Alfaro, Superintendent for Administrative Services at Alamo Heights ISD.

Right now, Alfaro says the district has one SRO assigned to the high school. Officer Brian McManis of the Alamo Heights Police Department began his duty in 2019.

"Our thought was, let's start small," Alfaro explained. "Let's start with one and let's start at the high school because at the time it was the most open campus. All the other campuses had the high security fences already."

These two new hires will mean one officer will be assigned to protect every level of education in the district. Other than the military school districts, Alamo Heights is the smallest district in San Antonio, covering just nine square miles.

"One would be at the junior school full-time and the third will be split amongst Cambridge, Howard and Woodridge, which is our three other elementary campuses," said Alfaro.

Selecting the new officers is no simple task.

"It's gotta be the right person," Alfaro explained. "They've got special training to make sure they're real good at de-escalation, they're real good at relationship building and they're real good at mental health support for various needs."

The new officers will work for AHISD nine months out of the year and the Alamo Heights Police Department during the summer. District administrators help vet each candidate and are thoroughly involved in the interview process.

News about the board's decision was relayed to parents and staff Wednesday.

"They can help with situations that we just aren't trained to do," said David Stephenson, Director of Bands and Coordinator of Fine Arts at Alamo Heights High School.

When asked his thoughts on the two additional SRO's, Stephenson said he applauds the change.

"Now there's just so many other reasons to have one. Replicating that presence, that ability and that expertise at the other schools is essential in this day and age," said Stephenson.

Dr. Ann David with the organization Alamo Heights Community Alliance has three children in the district.

"We are pleased the board is taking those steps," said David.

While SRO's are a good start, David says her group is planning to write letters to administrators suggesting additional support for at-risk students.

"The students do have robust support," she explained. "I think there can be more done to continue that support and really work on the social isolation and bullying elements of what we know to make schools safer for every child who attends."

RELATED: 'It takes all of us' I North East ISD ramps up security measures ahead of first day of school

David referenced a U.S. Secret Service report from 2020, titled "Protecting America's Schools". In the report, key findings showed: There is no profile for a student attacker nor the type of school that's targeted, attackers usually had multiple motives that included a grievance with classmates, most attackers experienced psychological, behavioral or developmental symptoms and nearly every attacker experienced negative home life factors.

"Those are the students who need support early and intervention early to prevent these kinds of incidents from happening," said David. "That's really what ends up making schools safer is those robust social networks among students, among teachers, among families and community members."

David says Alamo Heights Community Alliance meets with school board members regularly to learn about their goals and how they can help.

There's no timeline yet on when these new SRO's will step foot on campus. Classes begin Monday in Alamo Heights.

One week and two days following the tragedy in Uvalde, Governor Greg Abbott directed the TEA to ensure all school facilities in the state have heightened safety standards this school year. This includes doing a security audit, inspecting exterior doors on a weekly basis and encouraging an increased presence of trained officers on campus.

To see a list of all San Antonio-area school districts' security changes ahead of the 2022-2023 school year, click here

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