School districts face financial challenges adhering to state-mandated school safety requirements | #schoolsaftey

BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) – School districts across the state say they’re struggling to find room in their budgets for recent school safety requirements enacted by the Texas State Legislature.

Following the tragedy at Uvalde, the legislature sought to implement measures designed to make Texas schools safer. On Sept. 1, House Bill 3 went into effect, laying out increased security requirements for public and open-enrollment charter school districts.

The bill allocated $1.4 billion in funding for school districts. According to reporting from The Texas Tribune, that’s about $15,000 for each campus, $10 per student.

During the recent legislative special sessions, lawmakers failed to pass bills that would have increased safety funding to assist districts in meeting the requirements laid out in House Bill 3.

“If the requirement is there but the funding is not, then that puts the burden completely on the school district,” said Navasota ISD superintendent Dr. Stu Musick.

This means schools are left to foot the bill themselves.

“There has been some funding, but it’s, it’s not adequate to meet the requirements that they’ve placed on the district,” Kevin Beesaw, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services at Bryan ISD, said.

Beesaw said the district expects to spend around two to three million dollars to be in compliance. While they’re confident grants and leftover federal pandemic relief funds can cover their additional costs for this school year, they need a more sustainable solution from the legislature to avoid future financial strain.

“That really is going to be up to the legislature and the governor to come together and put something together that will extend out for a number of years,” he said.

In Navasota, Musick said they have to spend more – with even less – to keep up with state requirements. Their largest cost comes from needing to hire armed security guards for each of their schools, one aspect of the requirements recently enacted into law. According to Musick, this alone will add hundreds of thousands of dollars to their budget.

Navasota ISD received a school safety grant to offset their costs, but Musick said the funds, ‘didn’t go a long way.’

”So if that means that some curriculum or some resources or, or other things that you would like to be able to do have to take a backseat to the new legal requirements that we’re forced to, or that we’re asked to, to put in place,” he said.

Hiring additional personnel is putting a strain on College Station ISD, according to a statement they shared. They’re in support of the state’s move to increase school safety but say the funding needs to be there to make it happen.

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While College Station ISD remains steadfast in its commitment to prioritizing the safety of its students and staff, new safety and security requirements from the state legislature have presented some financial challenges.

Like many public school districts in Texas, the hiring of security personnel has contributed to the district adopting a deficit budget for the current fiscal year and may continue to have an impact on future budgets without support from the state.

Despite the financial implications, we recognize the importance of creating a secure learning environment for our students and are dedicated to upholding the highest standard of safety at our schools. Moving forward, the district will continue to advocate for increased funding for school safety and explore options to mitigate the impact on the district’s budget by seeking additional resources to support this vital aspect of our educational mission.

Bryan, College Station, and Navasota ISDs all had no choice but to pass a deficit budget for this school year as a result.

“It’s all relative, of course, to the size of their budgets, but that was a fairly common thing as we went through this budget cycle,” Beesaw said.

The most recent legislative special session ended in early December. No new sessions have been announced at this time.

Below you can watch our interview with Hearne ISD Superintendent Adrian Johnson about school funding.

KBTX News 3 at Six Weekday EXTENDED(Recurring)
School districts face financial challenges adhering to state-mandated school safety requirements
School districts face financial challenges adhering to state-mandated school safety requirements

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