Many Texas Schools Struggling to Pay for Armed Campus Personnel
HB 3 provides nowhere near the funding needed for Texas school districts to hire additional law enforcement officers.
Starting September 1, K-12 school districts in Texas will be required by Texas House Bill 3 (HB 3) to have armed personnel on every campus. However, many are having difficulty hiring more police officers, particularly for their elementary schools.
There are two primary reasons for this: a nationwide law enforcement officer shortage and inadequate funding provided by the new law, reports the Dallas Morning News. To meet the new requirement, more districts are considering allowing employees who aren’t law enforcement, such as teachers, to carry guns on campus so they can be school marshals or guardians.
This strategy is being considered by Plano so it can cover its 49 campuses. Another district also considering this approach includes Garland, while Collin County has already adopted it.
However, many school security experts as well as the general public don’t believe most Texas school marshals or guardians receive enough training.
“What happens if they are mishandling the firearm? Or it gets in the student’s hand? Accidents happen,” MaryAnn Jones told the Dallas Morning News.
Other districts are looking to hire more school resource officers (SROs). Brownwood ISD hopes to hire seven by 2025, reports Brownwood News. Midland ISD plans to hire 16 officers over the next three years, reports MRT. Meanwhile, Austin ISD plans to double its police force, spending nearly $6 million to hire 75 new police officers, reports the Austin American Statesman.
HB 3, which was passed by the Texas Legislature in response to the Robb Elementary School mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, only gives each campus $15,000 to improve campus security. Recruiting, hiring, training, and equipping an SRO or other type of police officer costs much more than that. For example, Austin ISD pays its SROs $77,000 per year, not including training and equipment, according to the Austin American Statesman.
Ector County ISD has 45 schools but just 30 officers, reports NewsWest9. The district will need to spend more than $4 million for the additional officers it requires to be incompliance with the HB 3 but is only being allocated $650,000. Ector County ISD is also struggling with recruiting officers due to the current labor shortage.
If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!
Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century
This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!