AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Santa Fe High School senior Grace Johnson recalled the moments her school went on lockdown one week ago, when a fellow student shot and killed ten people. “Five band kids who made it back inside and we’re sitting there and my band director said why Santa Fe? And we said, why not? Why not, it’s happening everywhere.”
Johnson was among the students, parents, and residents of Santa Fe who met with Governor Greg Abbott and state leaders at the Capitol during the third and final roundtable discussion on school safety.
She told state leaders she wants to see more police officers and limited entrances and other ideas to make schools safer. “Arming teachers and not knowing who is armed, that’s what we need.”
Jackie Molsbee, a teacher, and her daughter came to the Governor’s roundtable from Alpine, where two years ago, a freshman girl was accused of shooting another female student before killing herself.
The victim survived, but Molsbee said their community wants security increased at schools. “A lot of times, the schools are told you have to do this, you have to do this, but we don’t have the funding to do it.”
So the question now is where will the money come from to pay for more police officers, arming teachers, and hardening school buildings?
Governor Abbott and other state leaders have said the legislature will need to act.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says keeping guns out of schools must be a top priority. “There’s nothing more valuable to protect than our kids. I’m hoping maybe we have some resources from the federal government, schools are going to have to participate with the resources they have and I think the legislature is also going to have to be a part of this.”
Senator Ted Cruz said President Trump recently signed a bill passed by Congress, that he fought for, to grant $2.5 billion that schools can use to hire more police officers and for metal detectors. “Those dollars have not yet been implemented. It was just passed into law. We’re going to continue to work and ensure those federal resources that they get to Texas, they get to the schools, to the communities that need them.”
Shelley Shaw, who lives in Santa Fe and teaches in nearby Dickinson said there’s too much money being spent on STAAR tests. “That is billions of dollars that could go towards safety. It could go toward teacher raises, it could go to so many more useful things.”
The state has a four-year contract with Educational Testing Service for $280 million to provide STAAR tests.
A state House bill by Republican Representative Jeff Leach of Plano to determine exactly how much money the state and all of its school districts spend on STAAR testing each year passed a committee last year, but the measure did not make it to the full House for a vote.
In addition to long-term solutions, Governor Abbott is also looking for policies that can be put into place before students return to school in August.