ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Public School District has beefed up security in the year since the tragic shooting at Central Visual Performing Arts High Schools.
Prior to the October 2022 mass shooting, the security budget was $8 million. It’s grown to $11.5 million at present.
DeAndre Davis, the school district’s head of safety and security, said there were no holes in security at CVPA on the day of the shooting, but lessons were learned.
“Our job, every day, is to do our best to take away the opportunity (for violence),” he said, adding that entry doors and other doors throughout the building have been replaced.
“More resistant doors. Different doors. Different locks. Steel. Less glass; more durable. They don’t have handles on the outside, just on the inside,” Davis said.
The first person who confronted the shooter was an unarmed security guard. He alerted others by radio and let them know of the danger.
And while police were quick to arrive and kill the gunman following a shootout, questions about arming the security guards linger. Had the security guard in this instance been armed, would he have been able to prevent the violence on campus that day?
“He may have been, or he may have been. We have to make sure we take into consideration that human error and all of those things play a part,” Davis said.
The district undergone a wide area of other changes since the shooting. Money is being spent of better surveillance, an intruder alarm system, additional crisis training, and active shooter training.
The number of security guards has been boosted from seven at the two high schools before the incident to an additional 30 security officers. Another significant change: three of the seven guards at CVPA are now armed.
The St. Louis Public Schools didn’t deal with the security crisis alone. The state was also there with funds to help pay for added security.
“What we did was come back and look at what were their needs and, again, a million dollars was earmarked specifically for those recovery efforts,” Missouri Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven said. “It came in the form of two payments, $700,000 and $300,000, much of that was the redesign that needed to occur in that school following the shooting.”