Council discusses ‘best practices’ when it comes to school design

Excerpt from Click2Houston

With parents and students making their way back into their school routines, safety is a topic that is top of mind.

As school districts work on safety plans, so are architects and designers. One local architecture firm, PBK, is working hand-in-hand with law enforcement in a unique partnership that they say will save lives.

“Right now, if you’re a school designer or you’re a school administrator or you’re a school teacher, there is no definitive list of security items that’s ever been written by the true experts, which are the police chiefs that are responsible for that school security,” said Dan Boggio, PBK CEO. “Along the way, school security continues to evolve, so we’ll be having design charrette. We will be actually publishing a pamphlet on the conclusion that these police chiefs reach.”

“Building schools correctly in the first place and putting as many security features as we can in there will just save time,” said Alan Bragg, head of the PBK’s Texas School Safety and Security Council (TSSSC).

Bragg, a veteran law enforcement official in greater Houston, is leading the TSSSC, which was created by PBK after the recent school shootings. The firm invited dozens of law enforcement leaders, school district chiefs, city chiefs and sheriff’s office leaders from all over the region to take part in helping identify the best practices when it comes to designing safe schools.

“If you were to go to the Internet right now and query, ‘What are the best design practices for a school relative to school safety and security,’ you won’t get one hit, you’ll get 10,000 hits, and there’s such an overload of content that no one has a clue — what is the best practice,” said Ian Powell, PBK partner and architect. “Our goal working with TSSSC is to identify those from the people who are most expert, the chiefs of police who do this every single day.”

Meeting at PBK’s headquarters in central Houston, school district chiefs and law enforcement leaders from Houston, Spring, Conroe, Fort Bend County, Harris County and more came to the table to discuss best practices.

“We’re finally getting collective thoughts on what –throughout the industry from the people who are the true experts,” said Stephen Daniel, the Houston Police Department’s active shooter instructor. “My hope is that we’re going to have a collective conversation amongst the experts and come up with a consensus of each different type of approach on what is best — ‘Are fences the best? If so, what type of fence? Are man traps good? If so, what applications?'”

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