Years before shooting, analyst recommended security upgrades for Robb Elementary

In March, the Uvalde school board took first steps toward proposing a bond package which likely would’ve paid to replace the campuses’ aging buildings.

UVALDE, Texas — A school facilities expert told UCISD trustees in 2020 Robb Elementary needed “numerous security improvements,” two years before a gunman entered the building and murdered 19 students and two teachers. 

The presentation, obtained by KENS 5 through a public records request, also recommended security upgrades at other UCISD campuses. The analyst said the district should erect a fence around Uvalde High School, Batesville

School, and Flores Elementary School.

Gary Marek, a facilities consultant for the Texas Association of School Boards, presented his findings to trustees at a meeting on Feb. 24, 2020. 

“Safety is one of the things I am concerned about,” board president Javier Flores said after the presentation, according to a 2020 report from the Uvalde Leader-News. “Most of us attended school in these buildings.”

The presentation sparked discussion about a potential bond proposal that likely would have paid to replace the elementary school’s aging buildings. 

In all, Marek found the district would need to spend roughly $70 million to repair the district’s deteriorating buildings. It would have cost more than $100 million to replace the aging facilities.  

This March, the school board took first steps toward piecing together a bond package. Trustees hoped to put a proposal on the November ballot, but the shooting delayed those efforts.

After the tragedy, UCISD used donated money to fortify its campuses. Workers are still erecting fences around district facilities, weeks after students returned to class. 

Robb Elementary opened in 1955 and expanded in 2000. The shooting occurred in the newer annex. 

“The West Campus building and pavilion facilities at the Robb Elementary School campus are in good condition, but they are in need of maintenance and repair of various building components,” the presentation reads. “Numerous security improvements should be installed.” 

The 2020 presentation does not include specific recommendations for security upgrades at the campus, but Texas lawmakers identified a number of problems that allowed the gunman easy access into two classrooms on May 24, 2022.

“The school’s five-foot tall exterior fence was inadequate to meaningfully impede an intruder,” the legislature’s investigative report reads. “The school district did not treat the maintenance of doors and locks with appropriate urgency. In particular, staff and students widely knew the door to one of the victimized classrooms, Room 111, was ordinarily unsecured and accessible.”

Lawmakers also found Robb Elementary school’s interior and exterior doors only locked from the outside. Teachers could not tell whether those entrances were secured without going outside and trying to enter themselves. 

During an emergency, instructors could not lock out an intruder. Instead, someone outside the room would have to lock in teachers and students. 

Lawmakers expressed concern that “many” Texas school doors are designed in the same way. 

Original News Source