Texas Passes Landmark Bill for Increased School Security – Armed Officers and $330M Allocated!

A measure mandating armed officers on every campus and $330 million in additional funding for statewide school security has been adopted by the Texas Legislature and forwarded to Governor Greg Abbott.

After the incident on May 24, 2022, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, which left 19 children and two teachers dead, this session's focus on school security led to the creation of the measure, although some politicians are concerned that the investment won't be enough to meet districts' expenditures.

House Bill 3, sponsored by Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, is one of the few laws pertaining to education to have been approved this year with significant financing attached to its implementation. This is in contrast to other initiatives that would have invested billions of dollars in schools but were killed over the weekend due to legislative deadlines.

HB 3 was approved by the House on Sunday by a vote of 93 to 49 after being agreed upon by a conference committee that was jointly established by the House and Senate. The law was likewise adopted by the Senate.

The freshly adopted state budget includes $1.1 billion for district security along with the measure.

According to HB 3, districts must station an armed peace officer or school resource officer who is employed by or contracted with the school on each campus throughout the school day.

Districts that are unable to meet the criteria may request a waiver from the Texas Education Agency and ask to substitute another person, such as a district employee or a school marshal, who has received training, to do so.

HB 3 boosts per-pupil safety spending from $9.72 to $10 and grants districts $15,000 per site for security expenditures, in addition to some attendance-based support.

Rep. Vikki Goodwin, a Democrat from Austin, expressed concerns about the new bill's funding levels and the potential for unfunded liabilities when Burrows outlined it to the House on Sunday.

While the objective is clear, we must consider the price. said Goodwin.

Rep. Ken King, a Canadian Republican, stated that the measure provides additional ways for districts to meet the manpower requirement if they are unable to afford to hire a peace officer.

Law enforcement in small counties must periodically consult with district authorities, and HB 3 strengthens the obligations for state control and auditing of district security.

The measure also raised the stakes for a district that was found to be in violation of security regulations. The TEA was permitted to set up a monitor over the district under the previous iteration of the law. According to the recently enacted version of the law, districts that are not in compliance risk having a conservator installed, which carries more serious consequences and may mandate specific steps on the part of district authorities.

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