Texas lawmakers passed a sweeping mandate for school safety measures, including a requirement to position an armed security officer at every school and provide mental health training for specified district employees, according to reports.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed into law Texas House Bill 3, which went into effect Sept. 1. The new law comes on the heels of the Uvalde shooting massacre that killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in May 2022, reported FOX 4.
The new law requires each school campus to staff armed security, which includes: a school district peace officer; a school resource officer; a commissioned peace officer employee; a school marshal; or a school district employee who has completed school safety training and carries a handgun on his or her person on school grounds, FOX News reported.
In addition to providing armed security personnel, HB 3 mandates the following:
- Mental health training for employees who regularly engage with students,
- Annual intruder detection audits,
- An emergency response map that includes floor plans, access control, and exterior door labeling of every building on every campus,
- A multi-hazard emergency operations plan,
- Safety and security audits of school facilities every three years,
- Semiannual meetings between the county Sheriff’s Office and at least 10 other collaborating agencies, and
- Physical facilities’ inspection for design, construction, performance, operational, and other standards relating to safety and security at least once every five years.
According to the Texas Association of School Boards, estimated costs to install an armed officer at one campus is $80,000. However, the state is only providing a $15,000 grant per campus for the mandate.
As a result, school districts will need to reprioritize budgetary items, noted Joy Baskin, director of Policy Service and Legal Services for the Texas Association of School Boards, FOX 4 reported.
“This does create a situation where school district budgeting has to prioritize safety,” Baskin said. “Given that a school district budget usually commits about 85% of the budget to pay salaries of instructional staff, this does eat up another very important slice of the pie.”