The House Public Education Committee, under the leadership of new chair Brad Buckley (R-Salado), held an organizational meeting Tuesday that included briefings from TEA and the Texas School Safety Center.
Commissioner Mike Morath focused on post-COVID student performance issues, informing the committee that accelerated learning efforts, required by last session’s HB 4545, had significant positive results. He also discussed teacher salaries and the work of the Teacher Vacancy Task Force, which released its report last week.
The committee then turned to the issue of school safety, hearing from the TEA Chief of School Safety and Security and the Director of the Texas School Safety Center.
There was an extensive discussion of school safety needs and related funding issues. There seems to be some momentum for increasing funding and possibly providing at least a minimum amount not dependent on student enrollment, to help smaller districts with safety preparedness.
The TEA official, John Scott, was asked by Rep. Matt Shaefer about whether he believed that every campus should have at least one trained, armed person; Scott answered yes, but noted that the answer can be complicated when the issue of appropriate level of training is considered. Schaefer suggested that the legislature needed to mandate that all districts ensure that at least one armed, trained individual is present at every school.
The committee also discussed the value of not only "hardening" schools, but providing interventions such as threat assessment teams which, if properly trained and operating productively, are designed to help prevent school violence incidents.