Like many school districts in North Texas, Lewisville ISD is making plans to comply with a new law requiring schools to strengthen campus security. Among House Bill 3’s requirements, school districts must have at least one officer on campus during school hours, which takes a toll on school districts’ budgets.
School districts across North Texas are struggling to address the requirements of HB3 before it goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2023. One of the most pressing concerns relates to funding — Lewisville ISD (LISD) is launching the “Guardian” program that will provide special training, equipment and ammunition for the new officers, none of which is cheap.
“It’s things that school districts really haven’t done a lot with, working with gun ranges to try to get training spaces, the training equipment, the first time for us to buy ammunition,” LISD Director of Safety and Security Matt Garret told WFAA.
According to WFAA, the district expects the security improvements and the program’s cost to total $4 million, of which the state has only provided $1.5 million.
But funding is not the only issue that’s stressing school district officials. Since late 2022, law enforcement agencies nationwide have raised concerns over police officer shortages and low recruitment rates, and North Texas is no exception. This adds a new layer of difficulty to hiring school officers and contributes to delays in the process, a challenge that was pointed out when the bill was being discussed in the latest legislative session.
Additionally, LISD’s guardians will be district employees, which is in contrast with Allen ISD which hired a private security agency to provide extra officers. LISD guardians will be subject to longer training and stricter checks before hiring including psychological evaluations, drug screenings and background checks. According to the district’s website, LISD seeks retired law enforcement, retired firefighters, honorably discharged veterans and security professionals to fill 50 vacant positions.
WFAA reported that so far, the district received 43 applications for guardians positions and 10 are set to be hired and start training. But with the 100-hour minimum training set by the district, these new officers won’t be on campus when classes begin on Aug. 9.
“We want to make sure we have the right assets in the right place,” Garrett said. “This is a pretty big job responsibility.”
In the meantime, LISD will continue to utilize its elementary rover program in collaboration with local law enforcement who will continually rotate around our elementary campuses on a daily basis conducting perimeter checks and being a visible presence in the district.