Texas School Coalition Executive Director Christy Rome provided testimony on House Bill 13 to the House Select Committee on Youth Health & Safety on March 27, 2023.
We are grateful for legislation that increases both funding and local discretion to improve safety in our schools for students and school staff. We believe that members of a local community know best how to specifically address improving safety in their community and on their campuses. School campuses in Texas come in all shapes and sizes and the steps required to secure each of those facilities vary greatly.
HB 13 puts new requirements in place and provides the resources for schools to carry those out—what some may call “funded mandates.” It also puts some new programs in place that are optional for school districts. And while the bill calls for a list of approved vendors from TEA and the Texas School Safety Center (which can be helpful), it does not prohibit innovation by limiting the use of dollars to only those vendors. Instead, this bill allows free markets to work.
Finally, we appreciate the ability to reduce recapture as demonstrated in this bill by allowing dollars to be spent on school safety rather than just being sent to the state.
HB 13 seeks to improve safety and security in schools in a manner that is not a one-size-fits all approach, but that allows local strategy, needs, and priorities to play an important role.
Texas School Coalition Executive Director Christy Rome provided testimony in favor of Senate Bill 11 to the Senate Education Committee on April 5, 2023.
We truly appreciate the intentions of this bill to improve safety in our schools for students and school staff. The increased funding from the per-campus funding allotment would help, and increasing School Safety Allotment each time the Basic Allotment is raised by $50 is also welcome. Additionally, the per-campus allotment is helpful to address fixed costs incurred by every school campus, regardless of size.
Local discretion tantamount to ensure the safety and security of schools that come from and face a myriad of different circumstances. What works in Plano ISD is different than what is needed in Plains ISD.
But providing schools with best practice recommendations and standards, and helping them identify potential gaps in the implementation of those safety standards—along with the resources to address and remedy those gaps—could make a real difference.
Since we have limited resources to spend on this purpose, we believe that allowing greater local discretion on how to spend those dollars allows for the most strategic and meaningful approach.