School safety stuck in limbo at Texas legislature

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As Texas’ fourth special legislative session wanes into its final week, major legislation to better equip schools with the resources needed to provide armed security personnel and other safety measures is awaiting action in the Senate.

House Bill 2 would spend more than $800 million over the next five years to establish a school safety grant program and better fund the expansive school safety measures the legislature has already required school districts to implement through House Bill 3.

School districts across the state are concerned that, while safety is their top priority, the state has imposed unfunded mandates that will burden their budgets.

“Many school officials have reported that the amount of money their school districts receive through the existing allotment for school safety expenses is insufficient to cover mandated safety measures and, in some cases, the need to hire additional full-time personnel,” HB 2’s analysis states.

But while HB 2 passed the House 145-0 on Nov. 20, it has been awaiting action in the Senate Education Committee ever since. And now, with five days left to go in session, the Senate appears to be moving forward with their own idea.

The Senate is circulating a summary for a new school safety bill — Senate Bill 5 — expected to be filed by Sen. Huffman.

According to the summary, the bill will double the “per student” and “per campus” school safety allotments and provide another $400 million in grant funding to help schools meet the requirements of the legislature’s previous school safety bill, House Bill 3. The total cost is about $800 million, similar to the House’s number.

That money would build on the $1.4 billion that the legislature committed for school safety in the regular session back in May. $1.1 billion of that went toward grants to harden schools, and $300 million went toward raising the school safety allotment.

The Senate convenes at 11 a.m. Friday. The House is in at 1 p.m. Follow along here and @RyanChandlerTV on X for updates on this legislation throughout the day.

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