Texas schools still struggling to meet armed officer requirements

Eight months after Texas schools were told they must have an armed officer in every building, many districts are still struggling to comply.

More than eight months after Texas schools were ordered to have an armed guard stationed at every school, districts are still struggling to comply.

In May 2023, the Texas Legislature passed a $330 million bill that in part would require an armed officer in every school in the state. House Bill 3 (HB 3) was established following the Robb Elementary School tragedy. More specifically, the bill requires school districts to place a school-employed or contracted armed officer or resource officer on each campus during school hours.

Campus Safety previously reported in August that many districts were having difficulty hiring more police officers, particularly for elementary schools. The two main reasons cited were nationwide law enforcement shortages and inadequate funding provided by the new law.

Months later, other Texas school districts are voicing their challenges.

“We had an unfunded mandate. Not to mention the fact that we were looking at numerous deficiencies in law enforcement in our specific area and, frankly, across the state and the country,” Hays CISD Chief of District Security Jeri Skrocki told KVUE.

Skrocki said the district still has 15 positions that need to be filled, insisting that “everyone is in the same boat.”

“We have met with the sheriff’s office several times. “They are seriously trying,” he continued. “Right down the I-35 corridor where we live, all of these agencies are competing to get the same officer to come to their agencies.”

Texas school leaders: Not enough funding

Under the law, the state gives each district $15,000 per campus and $10 per student, which Manor ISD Superintendent Dr. Robert Sormani says is not enough.

“It’s not that these dollars appear out of the air: they have to come from somewhere. So ultimately we’re going to have to make decisions about what we’re going to do in the classroom, what we’re going to do with staff salaries, what we’re going to do with the facilities,” he said.

Sormani also told KVU that the district has had to make sacrifices to comply with HB 3, such as choosing not to open a new elementary school and reducing air conditioning maintenance costs.

“The reality is that we cannot afford to open those facilities. That would add another $1.2 million to our budget,” he said. “We have to decide: Can we afford to do top-line maintenance on air conditioning units instead of paying for other things we need for our students and our schools?”

Hays CISD parent Esperanza Orosco said the Legislature should have worked with superintendents to determine how much money would be needed to fund the requirements.

“Having that conversation and saying, ‘How are we going to do this and how are we going to fund it?’ Right now, districts across the state of Texas are facing deficit budgets,” Orosco said. “Can we really get an SRO on every campus in the state of Texas? In my district alone we have more than 24 campuses. Is it realistic to think that we will have law enforcement to staff each and every campus, let alone the training that comes with it? I just feel like it’s going to take some time and time isn’t always a good thing, right? “We want to implement things quickly.”

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to subscribe to our FREE digital newsletters.