TEMPLE, Texas — On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and other state leaders announced a new allocation of $105.5 Million for "School Safety, Mental Health Initiatives."
Among other things the announcement included:
- $50 million for bullet-resistant shields
- $5.8 million to expand the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT) statewide
- $7 million to the Texas School Safety Center for on-site campus assessments to evaluate access control measures
- $17.1 million for school districts to purchase silent panic alert technology
6 News sat down with Temple ISD Superintendent Bobby Ott Wednesday to discuss how this allocation will work and how Temple ISD could benefit.
Ott said it's still not clear exactly how much funding Temple ISD would get, but if it's across all school districts based on enrolled students, that money will dry up very quickly.
"When you multiply it across 7,800 campuses in a state or 1,400 school districts, it doesn't amount to a lot of money," Ott said.
Most of the money would be required to go to either bullet-resistant shields or silent panic alert systems, which means the district would then need to find out how to use these in their security plans. While any security improvements could be helpful, Ott said being forced into these particular options limits the implementation.
Ott didn't immediately know who would be using the shields. While the schools' eventual security plan details likely won't be shared due to safety reasons, he said local law enforcement partners would be important in using that resource.
"What we would do in that case is we would work with our police department to determine the best use of that equipment," Ott said.
The implementation of panic alert systems would also depend on how many systems would be bought. Even then, they would need experts to assist with that resource as well.
"My guess is, when we work with those vendors, they will have experts that can say 'here is the best positioning for those panic buttons,'" Ott said.
If Temple ISD had been able to ask for a resource, however, Ott said they wouldn't have requested either shields or panic buttons. Ott said the most critical element to safety and security right now is people.
"The real cost in safety is human capital. It's things like mental health counselors, it's things like extra security staff, and those are costs that are every year. That's why, while we are grateful for any additional money and safety measures, the real need is a revenue stream that's perpetual," Ott said.
Temple ISD is already asking the board to fund three additional security officers for the next budget cycle, which will bring the total to ten. Ott said the existing seven officers are normally stationed at the high school but the new officers would help cover campus middle schools.
The school district also works with Temple PD to get additional school resource officers for other campuses. As an additional safety measure, Ott said Temple ISD has requested Temple PD to review their critical safety plans.
This will include reviewing the current floor plans and camera placements for all school campuses to get another perspective on any safety concerns before schools starts this fall.
"Having them review those plans and walk our buildings is just adding expertise to our safety plan," Ott said.