BIG SPRING, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Big Spring ISD is taking safety and security to the next level and are keeping students safe in a way no other West Texas school district has done before.
“She’s special, she really is.”
Meet Sonia, she’s a 19-month-old Belgian Malinois, originally from Poland. Director of Safety and Security for Big Spring, Jim Wommack found Sonia through the Pacesetter K-9 program out of Liberty Hill, Texas.
“We were looking for a dog that wasn’t necessarily a biting dog, that wouldn’t be good for a school district, so we went with a detection K-9, so that’s what she’s trained on, 5 different odors,” said Wommack.
Those five drug odors also include detection for THC vape pens, which are becoming more popular in schools.
“Our kids and staff know that we want to make sure we keep things off our campuses that don’t need to be here,” said Jay McWilliams, Big Spring ISD Superintendent.
“Taking a proactive approach and understanding that the safety and security of our children is at the forefront of everything we do,” said Wommack.
After training together for several weeks, Sonia now lives with Jim and his family full-time; turning a two-year idea into a reality.
“We’ve fallen in love with her, she has an amazing life, she has her own kennel, we have two other dogs,” said Wommack.
Sonia has been with Big Spring ISD for around a week now and Jim says Sonia is working each and every day to further sharpen her skills. He prides himself on utilizing Sonia with full visibility to students.
“In terms of actual searches, it’s not going to be a daily thing. We will train every single day in some form or fashion, we will be on call if there’s an organization or group going out of town we can search luggage before they load the bus. Classroom searches are done with no children in the classrooms, we do not search individuals,” said Wommack.
While most other districts contract out, or partner with the local Sheriff’s Office, Big Spring ISD says it is taking a proactive approach by always having Sonia around.
“We can search locker rooms, hallways, classrooms, things like that. Most of our searches will be classrooms,” said Wommack.
This was made possible by a portion of leftover ESSER Two funds, which were provided to the district through the American Cares Act after COVID-19.
“We know what we’re looking at, we have that in our safety and security budget,” said McWilliams.
While Sonia is friendly, district leaders want to remind families and students that during school hours, she’s in work mode.
“She’s a very friendly dog, and she has a mission, and it’s to help make sure our kids have a safe and secure environment at Big Spring ISD.”
You can expect to see Sonia in the halls come the first day of school, this coming August 17th.
Breakfast, lunch, school supplies and Chromebooks are being provided for each student in the district this year.