AUSTIN, Texas — A bill that's currently being debated in the Texas Legislature would provide $15,000 for every campus across the state to upgrade their safety features. The money would be added on top of what Texas has already budgeted for school safety upgrades.
Nearly one year after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, state lawmakers are taking action.
"We need to ask ourselves, 'Have we done everything we can in terms of school safety?'" Sen. Royce West, who introduced the bill. said.
House Bill 3 would:
- Require safety inspections of Texas school district campus buildings at least once every five years by the Texas School Safety Center
- Create a safety and security department within the Texas Education Agency
- Could force districts to set up strong active shooter protocols or risk state supervision
- TEA would be required to create standards to notify parents of violent activity on campus
- TEA would set up teams for yearly vulnerability assessments on all campuses
- School employees who frequently interact with kids would have to complete a mental health first aid training program (TEA would reimburse them)
"The school districts can build upon this year after year and be certain that this is something that can be part of their planning," Sen. Joan Huffman said.
The Senate's version of HB3 removes a requirement to have an armed security guard at every campus. It also lowers the money schools would get for campus security from $100 per student to $10 per student, which is slightly higher than what it is now.
Some say the bill is still not enough.
"The bill addresses some issues, but the one thing the bill does not address is how easy it is for someone to purchase a gun," Houston Federation of Teachers President Jackie Anderson said.
Some Uvalde and Santa Fe families spend the Legislative session pushing lawmakers to raise the age to buy a semi-automatic rifle but that is not part of HB3.