Council, board review roads, security
By Devlin Monk, Star Community Newspapers
Coordination in the face of the challenges of growth was the gameplan at Monday night’s joint meeting of Frisco City Council and board of trustees.
No actions were taken during the meeting at the Vivian McCallum conference room at the city’s new Municipal Complex, but discussions allowed school and city leaders to share ideas and examine issues.
Council members and trustees lined out construction projects with the mindset of avoiding lines of backed up school traffic for prolonged periods of the school year.
Construction on Liberty High School is proceeding well, district officials said, but the campus’ fall 2007 opening on Rolater Road off Independence Parkway will coincide with the city’s widening of Independence. The expansion to six lanes from Main Street to State Highway 121 is set for completion in September 2007.
Frisco ISD also will open its first campus in Little Elm and another campus in McKinney in fall 2007. Robertson Elementary School will be in Sunset Pointe in Little Elm, and Charlie and Charlotte Mooneyham Elementary School will be on Eden Drive in McKinney.
Replacing the HVAC system at Rogers Elementary School and converting Fowler back to a middle school are other major facilities projects.
“We’re in good shape” on building projects, said Richard Wilkinson, FISD assistant superintendent for facilities and finance.
Down the road, the district is weighing the decision to open a ninth middle school, possibly in McKinney, and a fifth high school at Eldorado and Independence parkways.
The district could decide as soon as six months if it will add another high school in the northwest portion of the district.
“As we’re looking at schools two to three years out, we’re just trying to make sure that we weren’t planning roads and schools at the same time,” Mayor Mike Simpson said.
Frisco Transportation Manager Brian Moen updated city and school officials on five major state road construction projects that run through Frisco.
Eldorado Parkway (FM 2934) will be six lanes from Farm-to-Market Road 423 to the Dallas North Tollway. Texas Department of Transportation will let the project in April.
Engineering is completed on Main Street (FM 3537) for a six-lane project from Custer Road to Preston Road. Design plans are set to be finished by December 2007 with the project let at the end of next year.
Four more lanes for FM 423 from Stewart’s Creek to U.S. Highway 380 are in the works with design plans to wrap up in January 2007.
The state and City of Frisco will divvy up the cost of a six-lane divided highway plan for Preston Road (SH 289) from Main Street to U.S. 380. TxDOT will pay for four lanes, and the city will pay for two lanes. Design is set to be complete in January 2007.
Although Frisco is starting to see progress from the state on several key thoroughfares, sections of Eldorado Parkway won’t be complete until 2009 and Preston until 2010.
“We’ve had a lot of discussions with TxDOT on how to get the roads moved up,” Simpson said, noting that the projected timeline for the State Highway 121 stretch in Frisco from start to finish was 1987 to 2006.
“They work in geologic time,” School Board President Buddy Minett said.
Mayor Pro Tem Maher Maso brought up the idea of installing security cameras at public parks in Frisco.
Curt Balogh, director of information technology, said that it would be possible, but the issue would be what the city wants to accomplish with those cameras.
Maso said he would like to implement a security system that benefits both the city and the school district as well as the public.
“A large number of people are moving into the city with expectations [of certain] services, and those services need to be seamless. Public safety should be seamless,” Maso said.
FISD Superintendent Rick Reedy and district staff members shared some of the things the district is and isn’t doing to protect its students.
To prevent crises from flaring up on its campuses, the district works to keep its ratio of students to adults low, utilizes school resource officers on campus to identify stressful situations such as students not getting along or students whose behavior warrants monitoring, and employs security personnel at high school campuses to make sure only people who belong on those campuses are allowed on site.
“Nothing is ever foolproof, but we think our students are safer than most,” Reedy said. “They’ve (SROs) have spotted some danger signals that have allowed us to prevent some things before they were able to happen.”
Frisco Police Department has provided district employees with options for what they can do to prevent or react to school violence.
“We have just started working with staff to provide them options, not recommendations or (telling them) what they have to do or should do, but what they can do,” Police Chief Todd Renshaw said, referring to Burleson schools’ recent plan to instruct its students to rush and combat a gunman who invades their campus as “a little insane.”
The school district has a crisis management plan that it shares with local police. The district also has several campus crisis teams comprising six to eight campus administrators at each school who conduct tabletop exercises with police officials.
One council member asked how the police department would work with school officials if a threat of violence were to occur at a Frisco school.
“If a worst-case scenario were to happen, the police department jumps in and the school (administration) steps aside to let us do our job,” Renshaw said.