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The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

The Student News Site of McCallum High School

The Shield Online

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As a safety measure, administration installs fencing along southern edge of campus

Construction project funded by district, former bonds
Mira Patel
The new iron fence stretches around the English wing and down Houston St. around the portables.

Returning to school after Labor Day weekend, many students saw the new fence wrapping around Sunshine and Grover, and stretching the length of Houston Street. Started by former principal Nicole Griffith and continued by current principal Andy Baxa, the McCallum administration sees the fence as a way to improve campus security, with completion planned for the end of September. This fence idea was sparked by a potential safety concern from last year.

Where we have our portables, is a very un-secure area, because there’s nothing protecting these portables from the outside community.

— Principal Andy Baxa

“There are a lot of areas where we have to be concerned about if the student propped the door open,” Baxa said. “A lot of safety concerns, a lot of logistic issues.”

English teacher James Hutcheson whose classroom is located in the portables, knows the risk it comes with having the portables open to the public.  He thinks this fence will aid in removing strangers and other neighborhood issues from campus.

“There have definitely been people on campus before who weren’t supposed to be here,” Hutcheson said. “This fence will help a lot.” 

To get the ball rolling,  McCallum reached out to AISD asking if it was possible to fence the perimeter of the school, and then after for funding to begin. 

After viewing the request, Austin ISD decided that since McCallum was getting a sizable amount of funds for modernization, they didn’t want to allocate extra funds for a fence that would only be temporary before becoming potentially obsolete by the renovation.

“We then asked if we could do the side where the portables were because that’s our most unsecure area right now,” Baxa said. “Our south end of the building, where we have our portables, is a very un-secure area because there’s nothing protecting these portables from the outside community.”

After the district agreed to the revised proposal, McCallum found the funds to start building the first phase of the plan by allocating money leftover from the McCallum portion of the 2013 and 2017 bonds. 

A blueprint of the Phase 1 fence construction. In the future, the fence will extend further down Houston Street. (Courtesy of McCallum adminstration)

Hoping to acquire more funding to stretch the fence along more of the school’s perimeter, Baxa said this is just the first phase of the plan. 

While there are mixed opinions on the implementation of this new safety feature, many staff feel safer knowing that there will be less to worry about. Security guard and hall monitor Gilbert Harros acknowledges the additional safety this will provide for our campus but also admits that students might have issues with it.

“There are ways around everything,” Harros said. “And our kids are very smart, so they will find a way around it.” 

Some students have claimed on social media that the fencing is meant to deter students from leaving campus, but school officials said that the sole purpose of the fencing is to help keep students and staff safe.

There are no immediate plans to expand the fencing to other parts of the campus. Such projects will have to wait until school officials know how the modernization of the campus will change the campus and therefore any infrastructure that would be added around it. 

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    Nico MNov 3, 2023 at 10:08 am

    I like this article because I think it is very straight forward and answers a lot of questions that people were wondering about.