Student safety is of great importance to Brownwood ISD and to ensure a safe learning and working environment, two new programs will be implemented this fall at Woodland Heights Elementary and the High School.

Woodland Heights Elementary School is the pilot program of WATCH D.O.G.S., which translates to Dads of Great Students. The program was created by the National Center for Fathering, organizing fathers and other positive male role models to enhance school security. According to www.fathers.com, the WATCH D.O.G.S. program is active at more than 1,150 schools across America and when Brownwood Police Department School Resource Officer Fred Bastardo heard of its positive impact, he began the process of implementation. "The program brings in positive male authority figures," Bastardo said. "They help with whatever needs to be done: speaking with students, unloading and loading buses or cars, monitoring school entrances and lunchrooms." The program calls for fathers or father figures, such as uncles or grandfathers, of Woodland Heights students to volunteer a minimum of one eight-hour day; there will be a training session and t-shirts provided as a uniform, and the most important qualities for the job are the ability to be a positive influence and have a willingness to help the staff and students. All volunteers must pass a background check in order to participate.

If the program is successful at Woodland Heights, Bastardo hopes to further implement into other schools in the Brownwood School District. WATCH D.O.G.S. provides for fathers to continue helping to maintain a safe environment as their students progress through the school system. "Once we get it up and running, I know it will be a great program," Bastardo said.

A training session will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, and more will be available before the kick-off party on Thursday, Sept. 8. The WATCH D.O.G.S. will begin roaming hallways on Friday, Sept. 9. Contact Officer Bastardo (325) 646-9549 / fred.bastardo@brownwoodisd.org) or Woodland Heights (325) 646-8633) before Thursday, Sept. 8, in order to participate during the 2011-2012 school year.

Brownwood High School will begin a cooperation with the Heart of Texas Crime Stoppers' Safe Schools Program to provide anonymous citizens with the ability to easily report crimes being committed or information about possible upcoming crimes on the High School campus. A tip line will be set up on the Crime Stoppers system, to be up and running by Monday, Aug. 22. The phone number will be displayed for the community and on the website by this date, in addition to information about frequently asked questions and guidelines.

The School Safety Program will pay rewards for information on violations of major school policies that disrupt the basic function of the school. There will also be rewards for tips that lead to the arrest of individuals involved in criminal activity occurring on school property, on school buses, at school events or the recovery of property stolen from these venues. "The tip line will not only provide a means for people to let us know about crimes being committed," Bastardo said, "but we will get more information to be able to prevent anything negative from happening. If we know about it, we can act on it."