HOUSTON — The clock is ticking for school districts to comply with a new law that goes into effect in September.
Texas House Bill 3 requires an armed officer on every campus, but districts say cost and recruitment are the two biggest hurdles stopping them from complying with the new law.
The state is providing a $15,000 grant per campus, but the new law is primarily unfunded. The grant is just a tiny fraction compared to the money needed to comply with the mandate of hiring an armed officer at every school in Texas. According to the Texas Association of School Boards, it would cost $80,000 to place a resource officer at one campus.
The accountability now lies with school boards who say recruiting is just as difficult. The shortage of available officers is even forcing some schools to fight each other to hire someone.
"You know, every school district is going after them, right? So we're having to adjust our compensation plan," one official said. "We'll probably be taking that to the board to adjust those so that we can go recruit those good officers."
There is an exception where schools that can't hire an armed officer can have a school marshal or a school guardian instead. That's a person on staff trained to carry a firearm on campus. The problem is school leaders say finding someone willing to step into the role is difficult.
Several school agencies, including the Texas Education Agency, have said on record that they understand this new mandate will be a huge undertaking. With more than 9,000 campuses here in Texas, school leaders say they hope the legislature will hold another special session to provide more resources to schools.