Mike Miles speaks in front of podium
HISD Superintendent Mike Miles Credit: Jimmie Aggison

HISD Superintendent Mike Miles, joined by community members and representatives from the Houston Police Department (HPD), recently held a press conference to unveil the return of Project Safe Start 2023.

This initiative, entering its 34th year, aims to ensure the safety and security of HISD’s students, staff, and campuses as the new school year commences. The primary objective is to bolster the presence of police officers within the district and in the vicinity of school campuses to create a secure learning environment.

HISD’s newly appointed Police Chief, Shamara Garner, is leading the effort. Chief Garner, the district’s first female police chief, brings her extensive experience from a 28-year tenure with HPD, along with collaboration from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

The news conference took place at Madison High School, where representatives from these organizations came together to mark the initiation of Project Safe Start for another successful school year.

Chief Garner outlined the proactive approach for ensuring safety. “Faith-based leaders will walk the halls of our schools to reinforce good behavior and decision-making,” she stated. “Moreover, the law enforcement presence will be visible to contribute to a safe and secure start to the school year.”

Superintendent Miles also addressed the readiness for the first day of school. Ensuring an efficient bus transportation system and optimizing classroom conditions amid the anticipated high temperatures were key points of discussion. Extra measures, including providing more water, ice, temporary cooling units, and fans, were highlighted to tackle the extreme heat.

Quality instruction was also emphasized. Principals and teachers underwent comprehensive training, and a special training session known as “Demo Day” was organized for NES and NES-Aligned educators.

“High quality instruction is not the enemy of enthusiasm or fun,” he said. “Just because the kids are learning, does not mean they won’t have fun on the first day of school.”

One significant change highlighted was the district’s new policy concerning classroom doors. Beginning this academic year, classroom doors will no longer be closed and locked during instructional periods.

Miles explained that this policy is aimed at fostering cooperation among educators and enhancing instruction quality. He mentioned that safety is paramount, but the quality of education is equally crucial.

“We’re keeping the doors open to strike a balance between safety and quality instruction for our students. This approach ensures that we provide the best possible learning environment,” said Miles.

He says exceptions to this policy will be made for classrooms located near gymnasiums or music rooms.