Texas Schools Still Struggling to Meet Armed Officer Requirements

Eight months after Texas schools were told they must have an armed officer in each building, many districts are still floundering to comply.
Published: May 22, 2024

More than eight months after Texas schools were mandated to have an armed guard stationed in every school, districts are still struggling to comply.

In May 2023, the Texas Legislative approved a $330 million bill that in part would require an armed officer at each school in the state. House Bill 3 (HB 3) was established following the Robb Elementary School tragedy. More specifically, the bill requires school districts to place an armed school-employed or contracted peace officer or resource officer on every campus during school hours.

Campus Safety previously reported in August that many districts were having difficulty hiring more police officers, particularly for elementary schools. The two main reasons cited were a nationwide law enforcement shortage and inadequate funding provided by the new law.

Months later, additional Texas school districts are voicing their challenges.

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“We had an unfunded mandate. Not to mention the fact that we were in consideration of numerous law enforcement shortages throughout our specific area and, quite frankly, across the state and the country,” Jeri Skrocki, head of district safety and security at Hays CISD, told KVUE.

Skrocki said the district still has 15 positions it needs to fill, insisting “everybody’s in the same boat.”

“We’ve met with the sheriff’s office several times. They’re trying in earnest,” she continued. “Just in the I-35 corridor where we live is that all these agencies are competing for the same one officer to come to their agencies.”

Texas School Leaders: There Isn’t Enough Funding

Under the law, the state gives each district $15,000 per campus and $10 per student, which Manor ISD Superintendent Dr. Robert Sormani said is not enough.

“It’s not like these dollars come out of the air – they have to come from somewhere. So, ultimately, we’re going to have to make decisions on what we’re doing to do in the classroom, what we’re going to do for staff salaries, what we’re going to do for facilities,” he said.

Sormani also told KVU the district has had to make sacrifices to comply with HB 3, like choosing not to open a new elementary school and reducing air conditioning maintenance costs.

“The reality is, we can’t afford to open that facility. That would add another $1.2 million to our budget,” he said. “We have to decide: Can we afford to do frontline maintenance on A/C units versus paying for other things that we need to have for our students and our schools?”

Esperanza Orosco, a Hays CISD parent, said the Legislature should have collaborated with superintendents to determine how much money would be needed to fund the requirements.

“Having that conversation and saying, ‘How are we going to do this and how are we going to fund it?’ Right now, districts all over the state of Texas are facing deficit budgets,” said Orosco. “Can we really get an SRO in every campus in the state of Texas? In my district alone, we have over 24 campuses. Is that realistic to think we’ll have the law enforcement to staff each and every campus, and not even to talk about the training that goes behind it? I just feel that it’s going to take some time and time is not always a good thing, right? We want to implement things quickly.”

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Strategy & Planning Series