Texas bill requiring all schools to have armed security goes into effect this fall

A new law that takes effect this September will require Texas school districts to have an armed officer on every campus.

And if a district is unable to do this, it must have a ‘good cause exception’ with an alternative plan.

House Bill 3's new security requirements will be a very heavy lift for school districts of all sizes. Not only is funding a barrier but also the availability of trained officers. 

Joy Baskin oversees policy and legal services for the Texas Association of School Boards. 

She explained that the accountability for hiring armed officers at every campus lies with school boards who can claim a good cause exception with an alternative plan. 

"One option that the legislature suggests is considering what we call a school marshal or a school guardian," she said.

That would be a person on staff trained to carry a firearm on campus. But what about campuses without someone willing to step into that role? 


Texas: The Issue Is - Rep. Moody discusses HB 3 after it passed through Texas House

This week, the Texas House overwhelmingly passed HB3, putting an armed officer, security guard, or district staff member on every campus statewide.

"That is such a good question. And I will say that is a subject of a lot of discussion among school leaders right now," Baskin said. "There's no question that the legislature understood their requirement to be providing access to a trained person with a firearm at every campus. The statute doesn't specifically say that a district must fill in the gaps with a school employee who is authorized to carry a firearm. So I think it's gonna be a matter of local control."

The shooting at Uvalde's Robb Elementary School over a year ago prompted the changes. An 18-year-old gunman entered the school and killed 19 children and two teachers.

Uvalde parents and many others urged lawmakers to raise the age to buy an AR-15-style weapon from 18 to 21, but the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature never seriously considered it. 

Chief Bill Avera is the president of the Texas School District Police Chief's Association. 

The TEA and the school safety center and all of the agencies involved in this recognize that this is a huge undertaking. There are over 9,000 campuses in the state of Texas," he said.

The Texas Association of School Boards estimates the cost to place an armed officer at one campus is $80,000. However, the state is only providing a $15,000 grant per campus, a tiny fraction of the money needed. 

"This does create a situation where school district budgeting has to prioritize safety," Baskin said. "Given that a school district budget usually commits about 85% of the budget to pay salaries of instructional staff, this does eat up another very important slice of the pie."

In addition to the $15,000 grant per campus, the Texas Legislature also increased security funding per student by 28 cents per student. For an elementary school with 300 students, that's a grand total of $84.