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A look at security measures being taken at area private schools

PEARLAND, Texas – At St. Helen's Catholic School in Pearland, there is top-notch security.

In an emergency, administrators can lock down a whole school using a key fob that locks all school doors, sounds alarms and notifies police.

“We can also notify the police dispatch with the press of a button,” said Anthony Lacoste, the facility director of St. Helen’s Catholic School.

For St. Helen's, the concern with security started 20 years ago with the Columbine school shooting.

“I think it was when a lot of awareness was created,” said Lacoste.

Within the past two years, the private school raised $100,000 in order to upgrade its security.

“So, it was a huge sacrifice to include all the safety procedures and all the highest technology we could in this building,” said Dr. Phyliss Coleman, the principal of St. Helen's Catholic School.

Lacoste said it took a lot of coordination between the school, the police and fire departments and the security companies.

He often asked the security companies to do things they had not done before, he said. But, by thinking outside the box, he feels he helped them create better security for the school.

The security measures that St. Helen’s implemented are often looked at by other schools.

In light of the Santa Fe tragedy, there are renewed discussions on how to prevent gun violence in Texas schools.

When it comes to beefing up security, there are added costs.

For example, adding metal detectors to schools can be costly.

According to the Department of Justice, the average cost for one metal detector is about $5,000. According to the Texas Education Agency, there are 8,771 schools in Texas. If one metal detector was bought for every school in the state, the price tag would be about $44 million.

The Santa Fe High School tragedy hit close to home at St. Helen’s Catholic School, since Coleman worked in Santa Fe and knew the two teachers who lost their lives.

“We want to extend our deepest blessings out to them,” Coleman said.

St. Helen’s students will be wearing green on Friday in honor of the Santa Fe High School victims and survivors.