The Hays CISD board of trustees met Aug. 28 to address how the district will comply with House Bill 3, a new public education law that requires at least one armed security officer on every public and open-enrolled charter campus effective Sept. 1.

According to the resolution passed unanimously by the board of trustees, the district is unable to ensure that at least one armed security officer is present at each campus during school hours. Jeri Skrocki, chief safety and security officer for HCISD, said that she spoke with the Hays County Sheriff’s Department, and they do not feel they can comply with HB 3 due to lack of available personnel.

“[The Hays County Sheriff’s Office] were very realistic in looking at the situation that they were experiencing right now and really across the state and across the nation with the officer shortage,” Skrocki said.

The context

The HCISD board entered into an interlocal agreement July 24, increasing the number of school resource officers within the district from three to 15. However, the district has a total of 26 campuses to serve its student body of 23,000 students.

Local districts face an increasingly competitive market for hiring on additional SROs to remain compliant with the new law. Vanessa Petrea, HCISD trustee at-large, said that there are around 1,200 school districts across the state that are all being asked to put armed officers on their campuses due to HB 3.

According to HCISD Superintendent Eric Wright, the state will provide 28 cents per student and $15,000 per campus, totaling in $390,000 to help fund HB 3.

"Our kids to the officials in the state of Texas are worth 28 cents ... that's all," Wright said. "But because we know we need to do the right thing, we're committed to spending the money. So in order for us to get completely staffed with SROs, we are pledging another $1.9 million to fund SROs at each one of our campuses. Currently we spend $1.5 million on the ones that we already have."

What’s next?

The board of trustees has claimed a good cause exception for HB 3 and will work to develop alternative standards the district is able to comply with.

“I think there's a lot of unintended consequences with HB 3. And I know with the leadership of our superintendent, the chief of safety and security in collaboration with our team, we will continue to address all components needed to address school safety, and make Hays CISD a safe learning and work environment for students and staff,” District 5 Trustee Esperanza Orosco said.