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Houston ISD: School safety changes as new law takes effect | #schoolsaftey

HOUSTON — Safety is your top concern, according to our back-to-school survey. So we asked Houston ISD what plans are place in light of the new school safety law that was created in response to the Uvalde school massacre.

An HISD spokesperson told us each middle and high school campus has always had at least one HISD police officer who was armed. Currently, officers posted at elementary schools are not armed and that is the issue going into this school year.

The state’s new school safety law – House Bill 3 – goes into effect in September, it requires an armed officer at every school campus in the state of Texas.

The legislation does not outline penalties for districts that can’t meet that requirement, but it does allow for a school board to claim a “good cause exception” and said the district must outline an “alternative safety plan” to the state.

HISD has told us it will be claiming that exception, adding “We will not only ensure full compliance with the law, but more importantly ensure we safeguard the well-being of our students and staff.”

But it is a large undertaking for the state’s largest school district for at least two reasons.  While the state is giving each school district a $15,000 grant per campus, the Texas Association of School Boards estimates the cost of hiring a police officer could range from $80,000 to $100,000 a year. The other challenge is filling those positions amid a statewide law enforcement shortage.

And that may force many school districts to look to alternatives, such as arming school staff or hiring private security officers to guard campuses.

HISD has not specified whether it’s considering that option.

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We want to hear from you as the new school year starts.  Let us know what’s important to you in our back-to-school survey. It’ll help shape our coverage. 

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