As the Texas House of Representatives advanced House Bill 3 on April 25, 2023, school districts in North Texas began preparing for its implementation if passed into law by the Senate.
HB 3 allows teachers and staff members to become armed security officers in the school, provided that they complete school safety training provided by a qualified handgun instructor. HB 13, a similar bill authored by Republican state Rep. Ken King, would compensate teachers who choose to carry firearms for campus safety up to $25,000.
While educators, administrators and law enforcement officials met on April 25 to discuss school safety, Plano ISD raised concerns about labor shortages making it difficult to find officials to fill those potentially mandated positions.
Plano ISD school board Vice President Nancy Humphrey told WFAA that, to abide by the proposed law, the district would have to hire 42 new officers.
“I think that will be one of our biggest challenges,” said Humphrey. “It’s not so much the funding unless they pull funding away from this bill, but it will be, you know, where are we going to find these individuals and how are we going to get them trained?”
Districts will have to work fast if HB 3 is signed into law as it would need to be implemented for the 2023-2024 school year.
Currently, Plano ISD has 73 campuses, for which the district already has a school resource officer at every 31 secondary education level campuses, but would need to hire at least one officer for every elementary school campus.
“If we were to add armed security officers, and we want them to be fully trained and know how to work with our students and be around kids… it would cost us about 4.2 million dollars additionally every year,” said Humphrey.
According to Humphrey, HB 3 does provide state funding for the salaries of armed officials, but it does not contemplate technology and additional security measures that the districts might need.