Area’s largest district opens situation room when weather threatens

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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) When bad weather threatens, Killeen ISD has some major decisions to make to keep kids safe, and it all happens in the situation room, where the director of school safety, the transportation director, and the deputy superintendent work on emergency operations planning in case bad weather takes a turn for the worse.

(Photo by Chelsea Edwards)

“We were monitoring yesterday and last night,” Director of School Safety John Dye said Wednesday.
“What is the status? What's going to be happening?”

Between bus routes, walkers and afterschool activities, 45,000 students are impacted when the weather turns bad, and their families need to know how.

"Immediately in the morning, we send an update to campuses," says Dye.

Those updates continue throughout the day using what they call the "bat phone" which can reach all campuses at once.

Then schools can pass on info to parents using automated systems.

"Today we knew as a result of the KWTX forecast, that we were potentially looking at inclement weather," says Superintendent John Craft.
“Forty-five thousand students, 7,500 employees, and we definitely don't want to place anyone in harm's way.”

A campus may close or open late, but administrators say an emergency early release is the option of last resort.

"What if we take the kindergartener or first grader home, and the parents aren't there?” says Dye.
“They're under control in a safe environment at the school, so we rarely will ever close early.”

Almost 40 percent of students are connected to Fort Hood, so KISD also collaborates with leaders on post.

Depending on the weather watch, a school day may start with a drill, but the end of the day is just as important.

Activities get cancelled, notices have to be sent out, and then buses are re-routed.
And what if a bus gets caught in bad weather?

“We would go on the radio and tell the driver, we need you to shelter in place at the closest facility, closest campus,” Transportation Director Edward Thomas said.
“We have GPS to where we can see where all of the buses are, so if a driver is somewhere, and they don't know where they need to go- we can tell them exactly where to go turn-by-turn.”

The team also want parents to keep in mind-

"Transportation can be a little slower, but it's all because we are going slow and steady," Thomas said.

They also suggest parents talk with their children, so they know exactly what to do when bad weather strikes.