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    While unrest – orchestrated and authentic – unfurls across America for a solution about the terror of targeted campuses, the Palmer Independent School District has already chosen to take action. Located along Interstate 45, just eight miles north of Ennis, is Palmer, just three square miles and 2,071 people in size, it has circled its wagons to protect its schools. Kevin Noack, who is in his ninth year as the superintendent of the Palmer ISD, along with members of the school board, watched and listened in 2012 following the senseless mayhem at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. “We were in a board meeting after Sandy Hook and a parent stepped in to plead with us to keep that from happening here,” said Noack on Thursday. “While there is no fool-proof defense against someone bent on doing harm, that meeting really raised our level of concern.” The 56-year old, married father of three and grandfather of one, along with the seven member board of trustees, decided then to do something about preventing a Sandy Hook event. It took approximately one year before being implemented before they began arming a number of teachers at each building within the district. It is the same measure that President Donald Trump proposed this week as a solution after last week’s shooting in Broward County, Florida. “We began investigating what it would take to implement the plan here,” Noack said. “Then we contacted other schools who had begun a similar plan. We wanted to learn from them.” According to the Texas Education Agency, there are about 1,300 school districts, and 172 of them, roughly 13 percent, have armed teachers already in place. While the plan has its share of critics, for Noack and Palmer, doing something is better than doing nothing. “I don’t know if you can put a price on protecting students and staff,” he said this week. Brian Fry, the director of curriculum, stated where security ranks in this town. “It is high priority. It’s right at the top,” he said. Tag-teaming with Fry to address the significance of campus security, Noack added that “feeling safe is equal to academics, if not higher.” Palmer has preferred to be low-profile about their position, which has been in place four years, but word tends to get out. Fox 4 News profiled their program when it began, and four reporters from Japan have since done stories on their plan to insure safety. “We have chosen not to place signs around our schools that warn people we are packing and aren’t afraid to use it,” added Noack. “We’re not boasting nor do we intend to taunt. We are, however, prepared.” The Guardian program began with Noack strategically approaching a handful of teachers he had confidence in, those already with a concealed handgun license. He says the program has a mix of some who were hand-picked and others who volunteered, though not everyone is accepted. To gain entry into Guardian, “members must pass the same test with a specific psychologist that police officers go through,” Noack continued. “It helps reveal stability and competence.” Members are also required to have a three day training course, must already have a CHL or LTC (license to carry), and must participate in ongoing and situational training. In response to questions about equipment and training, Noack said the firearm used by Guardians are furnished by the PISD and they are Glock 19 9mm, with ammunition and membership at firing ranges also covered. “To maintain their security purpose,” he said, “we encourage them to practice regularly at a firing range.” Critics point to the danger of having a loaded handgun in classrooms, which was a concern addressed by the PISD board of trustees. “Each handgun goes home with the teacher each day,” he explained, “this way we make sure there aren’t any weapons left at school that could get into the wrong hands.” As to firearm safety, each is kept inside a classroom vault that can only be opened with a bio metric fingerprint. In fact, should a vault be opened, Noack is immediately notified by text and email. The identity of staff who are carrying as a member of the program is not publicly known. “It’s highly confidential,” said the superintendent. “So is the number of those in the program. Suffice it to say, we have multiple members in every building.” PISD added security doorways at each entry point, all equipped with cameras and kiosk entry technology. Those seeking admission must supply identification and a license that is screened through a data base prior to the locked door being released. Added to these measures, Noack recently received shipment of what is needed to begin an intruder defense system. It supplies an additional ring of interior security directed toward barricading doors to classrooms and offices. “These are being installed to prevent access should an active shooter somehow get inside,” he said. “The steel system fits inward opening doors and outward opening doors.” Mounted next to existing thick doors, securely placing the metal apparatus is done simply and quickly to allow teachers and students the security from an active shooter getting inside their room. There are approximately 150 doors into classes and offices. The cost for the intruder system was $30,000, an amount that would appear well worth it should it ever be needed. National reports indicate that campus shootings last about three minutes. It takes police nearly five minutes to arrive at the scene. “What we do in those precious minutes is a matter of life or death,” Noack pointed out. “God forbid it ever happen here, if it does, we have a plan in place and we are ready.”