The Bastrop ISD school board voted to maintain the current guidelines for volunteer chaplains in the school district at the Feb. 20 school board meeting.

Under the policy, chaplains are allowed in BISD schools as visitors and volunteers or can be considered for employment if qualified. The board did not adopt any further policy regarding chaplains under Senate Bill 763, which states Texas schools can choose to employ or accept volunteer chaplains without the need for certification.

“Chaplains are another source of caring adults in our community, and we would love to see them volunteer in our schools through our mentor program,” Vice Superintendent Kristi Lee said at the meeting.

Board members identified concerns with school safety if an open chaplain program were adopted. However, school board President Ashley Mutschink expressed the board’s cooperation in developing a more fleshed-out strategy in the future.

The background

School chaplains provide student support as well as services and programs.

Current BISD programs offer students access to licensed school counselors, behavior specialists and social workers. BISD students also have access to mental health counseling services through the district’s partnerships with TCHATT and Bluebonnet Trails.

What they’re saying

The school board extended the meeting’s regular 30-minute open forum to accommodate 19 speakers, many of whom voiced their support for the adoption of a resolution allowing chaplains at BISD schools.

“I think the students—instead of police intervention—sometimes I think that God's intervention would be much better served than police intervention,” Sheriff Maurice Cook said.

The need for Spanish-speaking chaplains was mentioned during the open forum.

Bastrop County Judge Benton Eskew spoke in the forum in favor of a resolution to better define the role of school chaplains in the district.

“There are a thousand ways that the chaplains can help and be there, but you have to be visible—you have to have a vision,” Eskew said.