The 88th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3 this year to increase safety and security at public schools. The bill requires all campuses in a school district to have at least one armed officer.

While the bill only applies to schools in the public education system, some early education centers are following the state's example by increasing their own safety and security measures at day cares and preschools in The Woodlands.

Current situation

Kevin Kilgore, owner of the Legends Ranch Kids 'R' Kids location, is opening a new Kids 'R' Kids academy in Woodson's Reserve in early 2024. He said safety and security is a top priority as he prepares to open his second location. He intends to use a combination of armed officers and advanced technology, practices which are in place at the Legends Ranch location.

Kids 'R' Kids Learning Academies are child care facilities owned by franchisees with dozens of locations in the country. According to the day care's website, the facility cares for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, as well as older children in a before- and after-school program.

"There's been a trend shift, if you will, in the security layer of what we need in the preschool world," Kilgore said. "We have children that can just get up and run out of the building, but if there's an active shooter, we also have babies in cribs who can't get up and run. So we've had to take that extra step."

Kilgore said safety and security measures in place at the Legends Ranch campus include:
  • A full-time security guard on premises
  • Front desk assistants who are equipped with emergency pendants that will alert the sheriff's department
  • iPads in all classrooms with a soft touch button that will deploy a local officer
Another viewpoint

The Goddard School is another local child care facility that serves children from infant to school age in The Woodlands area. Chas Kurtz from The Goddard School said the school recently conducted a survey of 2,000 parents of young children that showed safety and security was the second-most important factor for parents when selecting an early education provider.

All schools within The Goddard School system are equipped with:
  • Security systems
  • Video surveillance cameras that monitor all entrances, parking lots and play areas
  • A biometric system at each entrance door to keep out unauthorized visitors
What they're saying

"At The Goddard School, the safety and well-being of all members of our community is always our top priority," Kurtz said.

The future

According to the Child Care Technical Assistance Network, a system operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, child care facilities are only required to meet minimum health and safety standards, which does not mention protection beyond building safety, emergency preparedness and transportation.

Kilgore, who has helped build three Kids 'R' Kids schools in Texas, said the industry has evolved in the last several years, and security needs to be addressed as a priority. Aside from his existing measures, he said the Legends Ranch location has become a beta tester for a new security-based artificial intelligence technology created by PB&J TV.

AI is the intelligence of machines or software. Kilgore said the new camera system is designed to detect weaponry.
  • It can automatically detect pistols, shotguns and automatic weapons from a distance.
  • The video feed is monitored by a third party.
  • The third party can determine if the weapon is owned by a police officer by detecting a properly holstered weapon.
  • If a threat is detected, the school is called and an officer is dispatched to the location.
The AI technology will be implemented at the new Woodson's Reserve location when it opens, he said. Kilgore said he hopes it will become a part of future security measures for all day cares and preschools.

Quote of note

"It's kind of ingrained in our mind that it's the only way to open a preschool," he said. "We are first in the nation to have this technology fully implemented."