Cy-Fair ISD first in Texas to add emergency call stations

March 7, 2017 GMT

After the installation of 50 call stations is completed in early summer in the Cy-Fair ISD, it apparently will be the only public school district in Texas to offer this safety option.

“Emergency call stations are intended, by most accounts, to provide for a rapid response of security/law enforcement in the event of a significant threat or hazard on campus,” said Chance Freeman, associate director school safety education for the Texas School Safety Center. “Though emergency call stations are pretty prevalent at college and community college campuses, the TxSSC is not familiar with the devices being used on K-12 campuses,” he said.

“I personally do not know of any other districts doing this,” said Dillon Brady, Cy-Fair ISD assistant superintendent facilities and construction. “We are the largest rural/sub-urban district in the state with more than 115,000 students across our sprawling district.”

Freeman called Cy-Fair ISD “progressive.”

“The TxSSC believes that the use of emergency call boxes could be a good communication tool to allow for reporting and/or requesting assistance,” added Freeman.

Brady explained that Cy-Fair officials thought call stations would be a good option for the district to provide.

“Given the ever continued growth of the district, the size of many of our sites, and various events that occur at our campuses, the community and the district felt it would be a good idea to provide an extra layer of safety for our kids, parents, and staff. Whether it is an injury on the athletic fields, an accident in the parking lot, criminal activity or an incident with an animal at the Ag facilities, safety is our No. 1 priority.

The district is using $755,000 from 2014 bond funds to purchase the call stations, which already are being installed. Brady anticipates completion of installation by June.

The solar-powered stations will be placed at the 12 district high schools, 18 district middle schools, Berry Center / CFFCU Stadium, Pridgeon Stadium / District Natatorium and the three district ag-science centers.

“Similar to educating our students, CFISD takes great pride in being at the forefront of providing safety measures to keep our students, staff and community safe,” said Brady.

He spoke to trustees last month before the board awarded the contract on Feb. 13.

During the Feb. 9 board work session, trustee Bob Covey asked “What’s there to keep people from pulling pranks” with the call stations?

Brady said “Honesty.”

He added that the call stations have cameras on them so that police dispatchers can see who’s pushing the button for emergency help, which Covey said was good.

Another observation about the call stations comes from Freeman.

“Anecdotally, several participants on a university listserv monitored by TxSSC have reported moving toward removing the call boxes because students and others are using them for non-emergency purposes (such as locking their keys in their car, asking for directions, etc.). While this may be a personal emergency, it is not what the phones were intended to be used for.”

Cy-Fair trustees separated the call station item from the consent agenda after a question was raised about the bid totals.

A Feb. 3 memo from Brady to Matthew Morgan, assistant superintendent of support services, in part reads, “Our department has carefully evaluated the submitted proposals and hereby recommends to the Board of Trustees, to award the construction contract to Case Systems Inc. in the amount of $755,000.

“Case Systems Inc. has the highest ranking based upon the proposed price and scoring of the published criteria and therefore provides the best value to the District,” continued the memo.

The three bids for the call stations ranged from $621,875 to $755,000. During the Feb. 13 open forum, a speaker questioned the recommendation, noting that the second bidder was $133,000 under Case’s bid with only a minor difference in the point ratings.

Morgan said that the police department and security looked at the best value for the district. “There are some features that Case offers that the others do not.”

Brady said district officials looked at reliability, capacity, power source, the camera, warranty and type of speakers. He said Case met every item with one exception that officials thought could be modified.

The recommended contract is under the bond program budget, added Brady.

Observed trustee John Ogletree, “Just because it’s the low bid does not mean it meets every requirement or specification we’ve asked for quality of service.”