Every public school building will look different on the outside and operate differently on the inside following approval of a sweeping school safety bill in the Texas House last night, which is now on the verge of going to Gov. Abbott for his certain signature, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
In many ways, school safety was the centerpiece of the 2019 session of the Legislature. In fact, the House version of the school safety bill was sponsored by State Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Galveston), who represents Santa Fe, where a shooting last year left eight students and two teachers dead.
Bonnon says among the key parts of the bill is a requirement that every ISD in the state come up with a comprehensive action plan to deal with potential school threats, and to maintain safety in its school buildings.
"These multi-hazard emergency operation plans will be reviewed by the School Safety Center qt Texas State University, the the TEA is tasked with enforcing these provisions," Bonnen said.
He says the appearence of school buildings will change as well.
"SB 11 establishshes a statewide system of school building construction and maintenance, with safety being the key provision of the standards."
That can include everything from limiting entrances to school buildings, to installing metal detectors or other threat detection equipment, and moving away from the 'multi building campus' school which was popularized in the 1990s, into a new single building model that can be more easily protected.
Other initiatives include state funding for increased number of counselors, mental health screening, which under an amendment added last night cannot happen without parental consent, and regular drills based on the 'fire drill concept,' which, since it was introduced in the 1950s, has kept U.S. schools without a single fatality resulting from fire since the seventies.
"There will be eight separate drills introduced, including lockdown, lockout, shelter in place, and fire evacuation drills," Bonnen said.
While the bill encourages local police and sheriff's offices to increase routing patrols through schools and even to set up substations in school building, this bill does not expand the number of guns in schools or arm teachers or school marshals, although other measures still being debated in the Legislature would make those changes.