Georgetown ISD will seek alternative methods of meeting requirements for armed police officers on school campuses this fall.

What happened

District officials on Aug. 21 approved the submission of a good-cause exception to HB 3, the state law requiring an armed security officer on every public and charter school campus, which will go into effect Sept. 1. GISD Superintendent Devin Padavil said the law allows for districts to claim an exception due to lack of funding or personnel and meet the requirement by alternate means.

The specifics

Texas school districts have a few options for meeting the requirements of HB 3, such as hiring commissioned peace officers, utilizing school resource officers in partnership with a local police department or employing officers through a district police force. Alternate means of meeting the requirement include contracting armed guards from a private security firm, implementing a school marshal program and utilizing district-employed guardians. These guardians are district employees who have completed training programs necessary to carry firearms on school property, Padavil said.

He also said the district is exploring the creation of a school marshal program to provide the necessary security on campuses not already covered through the district's partnership with the Georgetown Police Department.

What they're saying

The total costs associated with the first method, Padavil said, would be between $3 million-$4 million, inclusive of first-year costs of equipment for new school resource officers.

While the state has allocated some funding to offset the burden of costs associated with having an armed security guard on each campus, Padavil said this is not enough to cover the program. He said the state is providing $15,000 per campus and $10 per student to fund the initiative, but this simply does not cover the cost of a full-time employee.

“It is worth noting that [the state] also hasn't provided the funding that would equal the positions that are required,” Padavil said.

Place 4 Trustee Stephanie Blanck urged community members to write their representatives and ask for the funding required to meet the new requirements.

“This terrifies me, and I imagine it probably terrifies a lot of people,” Blanck said. “Every time we turn around, they come out of the legislative session with new unfunded mandates.”