Gov. Greg Abbott today will sign three historic bills which will result in major changes in the way Texas public schools appear, and how they educated and handle children.
The bills are the result of 18 months of effort following the Santa Fe High School shooting in May of 2018, and go to the heart of how to most efficiently make Texas school safer for students, teachers, and the community.
“No student should be afraid to go to school,” Abbott said. “No parent should be afraid to send their child to school.”
School safety was one of the governor’s key emergency items for the 2019 session, which means the bill will take effect immediately upon signing, allowing the provisions to be in place for the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
Among the recommendations are regular and standardized school shooting drills in all schools. Experts say the introduction of fire drills in schools in the 1970 led to the literal end of all deaths by fire in school buildings.
The measures will vastly expand mental health screening in schools, with the addition of more school counselors.
Perhaps a major part of the legislation requires the Texas Education Agency to establish standard architectural and engineering standards for new school construction. This will result in a change of appearance of public school buildings around the state as buildings begin to focus on safety as the key priority in school construction.
This is expected to lead to fewer entrances and exits, the possibility of metal detectors in school lobbies, and a move away from ‘campus style’ high schools into a single building which is easier to secure and lock down in case of emergency.
The measure also raises the limit on the number of school marshals that will be allowed in schools, and encourages something many law enforcement agencies have already done, to establish police and sheriff’s substation in school buildings.