The Stephenville ISD board of trustees voted unanimously Monday to approve construction of a vestibule for the main entrance at the high school, a move prompted by ongoing safety concerns nationwide.

Keith Starnes, maintenance director for the SISD, told trustees that the construction will feature windows “thicker than standard glass” and would change the entry procedure so that each person will have to be “buzzed in” with an electronic lock system after being approved as a visitor with an ID check.

Starnes said the installation will likely take 2 to 4 weeks.

Superintendent Matt Underwood said that although the exact start date is not certain, “We should have it in there pretty quick.”

The total cost for the vestibule is estimated to be approximately $15,000.

The trustees also voted to approve the budget for 2018-2019, after $250,000 was added, earmarked for overall security expenses. As was previously announced, the amount in the general fund will be $30,861,728, with estimated expenditures of $30,528,370.

Monday’s budget approval beat the deadline for setting the tax rate, which would have been Sept. 1.

Next was the vote on whether to adopt the SISD’s property tax rate, which went up as previously noted to $1.3429 (per $100 value), and “which is effectively a 13.34 percent increase in the tax rate,” according to the meeting’s agenda.

Of that amount, $1.0600 is for maintenance and operations, and $0.28290 is for payment of principal and interest on debts.

The document presented to the trustees states that, “This year’s tax levy to fund maintenance and operations expenditures does not exceed last year’s maintenance and operations tax levy.”

The trustees again voted to accept the motion, 7-0.

“The tax rate will be exactly as we told the voters in public and in all of our presentations,” Underwood said. “But due to a favorable interest rate (on bonds), we will be able to shrink the term from 30 years to 24 years.”

Underwood said that, prior to this year, the tax rate had not changed for four years in a row.

Later in the meeting, the trustees again voted unanimously, this time to approve purchasing separate keyboards for students to connect to their iPads.

A durability issue came up during the last school year and Underwood described it as “a debacle” with some of the plastic keys falling off and missing from 65 percent of the keyboards.

The trustees approved that 7-0 as well, clearing the way for Shelby Womack, the SISD’s executive director of technology and digital learning, to issue new keyboards.

Last year was the first school year for SHS seniors to have iPads issued by the school, Underwood said, adding that younger students have had them for several years.