Newest Canyon ISD schools say safety is highest priority

Randy McDowell, Canyon ISD Assistant Superintendent Business and Operations
Randy McDowell, Canyon ISD Assistant Superintendent Business and Operations

By Sarah Seeley

Amarillo, Texas - Two new elementary schools will open in Canyon ISD this fall and schools officials are going one step further to ensure their students' safety while making the school as "green" as possible.

School administrators and board members wanted City View and Hillside Elementary Schools to be as green as possible with the amount of money their 2007 bonds would allow... But did not go as far as LEED certification, which is the highest in green building standards.

"[But] that comes with a significant additional costs, and we didn't feel like we could incorporate all of that into the new campuses, but we did take measures that make it more energy efficient," said Randy McDowell, Canyon ISD Assistant Superintendent Business and Operations.

Each of the $12.5 million campuses is built with oversized air conditioning units, motion censored lighting, energy efficient windows, and school wide natural lighting.

School officials say natural lighting was one of their biggest concerns for energy efficiency and the well-being of the younger students.

State of the art security was also top priority.

"We've got sixteen security cameras at each of the new campuses so we've got a good view of the exterior and interior of the building," said McDowell.

Those sixteen cameras will be fed into the office on a big screen TV where secretaries can monitor all entrances and hallways.

At 8 AM on school days, all but one set of doors will lock and all visitors will be forced to sign in.

"When the public comes in they're forced into an area into the office area where they have to sign in and go into our system," said Hillside Principal Janet Laughter.   "Then after they're released from that they can enter the school."

But intruders aren't the only concern when it comes to safety.

"[It] was just a desire our school board had to go ahead and integrate tornado shelters into those schools and so there's a hallway for Kindergarten and first grade," said McDowell.

"There are cinder block walls that are filled with concrete and steel and there is also a concrete lid on the top of the building."

The tornado shelter walls, floors, and ceiling are each 12 inches deep.

Community members can get a view of the new schools during an open house from 4-7 PM on August 3rd.