RUNNELS COUNTY - In the wake of the school shootings in Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last Tuesday, where 17 students were murdered, schools across the nation and the state, including those in Runnels County are assessing their policies and procedures pertaining to active shooter events.

Issue: The safety and security of students in Runnels County schools.

Community impact: Providing information to parents and community members on security at area schools.

RUNNELS COUNTY - In the wake of the school shootings in Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last Tuesday, where 17 students were murdered, schools across the nation and the state, including those in Runnels County are assessing their policies and procedures pertaining to active shooter events.

All of the districts in Runnels County are required by the Texas Education Agency to conduct periodic drills for fire and other emergencies via guidelines presented by the Texas School Safety Center in San Marcos.

The schools hold lockdown drills each semester and fire and other drills more often throughout each semester.

“Whatever is best for our students and staff safety is what is going to happen,” said Ballinger ISD Superintendent Jeff Butts. “It is a different time and it is naive for anyone to think that things that go on in the world can’t happen in our community - it can.”

That is why in the fall, Ballinger ISD, which has 850 students, initiated the Guardian Plan, which aims to arm a select number of the staff members as a stopgap measure in active shooter incidents either on campus or at off campus activities. The plan is an extra security measure to provide safety for students during the time that law enforcement is in route to an incident.

Last summer, Ballinger ISD took steps to ad security to all of the campuses by securing the entrances at all three schools and by placing cameras throughout the campuses.

“We are looking at additional security measures moving forward,” Butts said.

Miles ISD, which has 440 students, implemented the Guardian Plan four years ago, and has had no problems since then, said Superintendent Robert Gibson.

Miles has taken steps to secure the campuses as well.

“We have security built into the new school such as cameras, communication devices, and card entry systems,” Gibson explained.

Gibson said administrators and staff participate training each year.

“Administrators and staff participate annually in the ALICE training program for school lockdown and evacuations,” Gibson said.

Winters Superintendent Bruce Davis said that every procedure in place at the campuses are for the safety of the 548 students who attend classes there.

“It’s a good idea to do the drills more often if possible,” Davis said.

He added that while Winters ISD takes security and safety seriously there is room for improvement for all districts.

“There are still some things that we need to do and things that everyone needs to do,” Davis said.

While Davis and all of the superintendents encourage students to adhere to the “if you see something, say Something,” motto, false reports put everyone in danger.

On Friday, a false report of a lockdown at Winters ISD was reported on social media, which was quickly diffused by the Winters Police Department.

In Ballinger, there is a place on the district’s website called “Anonymous Alerts,” where students or parents in the school community can anonymously submit any suspicious activity, bullying or other student related issues to a school administrators.

“We have to be more diligent,” Butts said. “If you see something that makes you uncomfortable tell the proper authorities and let them handle it.”

In the future, plans could include drills with local law enforcement.

“It is something we need to do at all of the schools with all of the agencies included,” said Ballinger Police Chief Stan Maresch. “In the past we’ve included all of the police departments as well as Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Department of Public Safety.”

Runnels County Sheriff Carl Squyres echoed that statement.

“I have encouraged the schools to include us in any type of drills going forward,” Squyres said.