This post was originally published on Defender Network

Law enforcement officials are preparing to increase on-campus police presence in Houston-area districts as the school year begins for students in Alief ISD, Hull-Daisetta ISD, Humble ISD and New Caney ISD.

In addition to specific plans made by the school district’s police departments, Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said his department would dedicate hundreds of additional deputies to schools throughout the year.

“My office has already begun authorizing personnel, equipment — different types of equipment — to in and around these ISD’s, depending on the needs of each police chief and their staff,” Herman said. 

Herman added that he’s confident that his department will be able to provide the number of deputies requested by each district before the school year begins. Additionally, Herman said that his department has a sufficient amount of rifles and ballistic plate shields in order to adequately respond to an active-shooter situation. 

The effort will be focused on school districts in Harris County Precinct 4 — Spring, Tomball, Klein, Cy-Fair, Humble and Aldine — as well as daycares and private schools in the area.

“We are unified as one to work together as a team to accomplish the safety of the community and more importantly our kids,” said Tomball PD Captain Brandon Patin.

This comes after Houston ISD Superintendent Millard House II last week said that the HISD Police Department’s “officers would not have been prepared” for a shooting similar to what occurred in Uvalde earlier this year, when an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two adults inside of an elementary school classroom.

HISD’s board of trustees is expected to vote on proposed expenditures of more than $100,000 for rifles, ammunition and ballistic plate shields this week. 

General preparation continues as dozens of teaching positions remain open in Alief ISD, including many elementary schools. The district’s board of trustees, like many Houston-area districts, approved a starting salary increase this year for educators.

New teachers in Alief will now make a minimum salary of $60,000, and returning employees get a $2,000 dollar supplement. That supplement is equivalent to a 3% raise of the midpoint for most teachers in the district.

Alief ISD is also starting the year off with an interim superintendent after its former superintendent, HD Chambers, retired after 12 years in the role. The Alief Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Gina Tomas, who previously served as the principal at Rees Elementary School, and Hastings Ninth Grade Center.

“The Trustees are pleased to welcome Gina Tomas back to Alief ISD,” Board President Ann Williams said in a press release. “Ms. Tomas will continue to provide the strong and stable leadership Mr. Chambers has provided and will maintain the District’s initiatives during the 2022-23 school year, as the District searches for its next Superintendent.”

Fort Bend ISD, Klein ISD, Santa Fe MSD’s, Goose Creek ISD and Conroe ISD all begin class this Wednesday. Magnolia, Crosby and Galena Park ISD each are scheduled to begin on Thursday.

Spring Branch ISD begins class on August 15, followed by Aldine ISD on the 17. Houston ISD, Cypress-Fairbanks, and Lamar CISD are set to open its doors on August 22.