In a bold move to bolster school safety, Texas has enacted a comprehensive law mandating armed security guards, mental health training for staff and a series of other measures aimed at protecting students and faculty.
The multifaceted law outlines strict requirements for Texas’ 9,000 school campuses, with the most significant requirement being an armed security guard at each school campus.
“The board of trustees of each school district shall determine the appropriate number of armed security officers for each campus; however, they shall ensure that at least one armed security officer is present during regular school hours at each district campus,” the law states.
Signed into law on June 14 by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas House Bill 3 took effect on September 1, following the tragic Uvalde school shooting last May that claimed 21 lives, according to Fox News. While the measures have received support in principle, the financial burden they place on school districts has sparked a heated debate.
In addition to armed security, the new law stipulates mental health training for select staff, annual intruder audits, and the creation of detailed emergency response maps, among other stringent safety protocols.
“This does create a situation where school district budgeting has to prioritize safety,” Joy Baskin, director of Policy Service and Legal Services for the Texas Association of School Boards, said.
According to estimates from the Texas Association of School Boards, positioning an armed officer on a single campus could cost up to $80,000. However, the state is currently only offering a $15,000 grant per school campus.
“We all support the idea,” Stephanie Elizalde, the superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District, stated, “The biggest challenge for all superintendents is that this is yet again an unfunded mandate.”
To adhere to the new mandates, some districts are contemplating contracting private security firms, according to Fox News. L&P Global Security in Dallas revealed that it is currently in talks with four districts and already has contracts with four others.
Chief Bill Avera, president of the Texas School District Police Chief’s Association, highlighted the difficult nature of the mandate, explaining that the requirements are an enormous undertaking for schools across the state, according to Fox 4 News.
Although educators and administrators largely back the intent behind the legislation, many are grappling with how to finance these new and expansive safety measures.
This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.