School districts and state lawmakers are talking school security after the Newtown, Connecticut shootings. Discussions include arming teachers, putting more police in schools, and how to pay for stepped up campus security.
Three Houston-area state lawmakers are proposing a way school districts can finance stronger campus security. Republican Senator Tommy Williams says the School District Security Act would create dedicated funding from higher sales or property taxes approved on the local level.
“We are not passing a tax," Williams emphasized at a news conference. "We would leave it up to those local communities to decide if they wanted to fund this; either by a sales tax if it’s available or a property tax.”
Williams says the property tax would have a cap, and a constitutional amendment would likely be necessary to create the options.
Democrat Senator John Whitmire says the bill’s goal is not more school police forces.
“It may be technology. It may be cameras. It may be additional personnel," Whitmire said.
Whitmire and Williams say additional training for school teachers with concealed handgun licenses, as mentioned by the Lt. Governor, is not specifically in this bill, but the money raised could be used for the types of training local districts want.
Republican State Representative Dan Huberty is helping draft the bill. He’s a former school board president.
“This law is really going to allow school districts and school boards and their constituents the ability to decide for themselves how best to use the resources,” Huberty explained.
Huberty has already filed a bill that would allow school superintendents and school board members to carry concealed weapons at school board meetings.
The Cleburne School District put arming teachers on the table Tuesday night. Two trustees requested it be part of a larger school security discussion. The Superintendent is not recommending teachers with conceal and carry permits be allowed to bring their guns into the classroom. Two rural Texas school districts already allow teachers with guns: Harrold and Union Grove. The Plano school district is considering additional armed private security officers on each campus at a cost of nearly $3 million.