AUSTIN, Texas – The question of how to pay for improving school safety was presented to Texas lawmakers on Tuesday.
• Santa Fe officials put the price tag at $30 million for a school redesign
• Santa Fe district officials also say they would need $1 million extra per year
The state received a $2 million federal funding boost this week to combat school violence, but two Santa Fe school district employees said that doesn't even begin to cover what's needed to better protect students.
Five months ago, 10 people were killed when a shooter opened fire at Santa Fe High School.
"It should have never happened," said district school board president Rusty Norman.
The district has since spent $2 million from its own coffers to double security personnel, add metal detectors, cameras and panic buttons to campuses. They also have plans to increase mental health resources, but they need funding.
"We want people to come forward and say, ‘What is the biggest number?’ In your world, a tiny school district like Santa Fe," said Rep. John Zerwas.
Lawmakers are listening, and Santa Fe officials put the price tag at $30 million for a school redesign.
"It's pretty sobering the amount of money that you're talking about," said Rep. Donna Howard.
Santa Fe district officials also say they would need $1 million extra per year to hire and keep more school counselors and officers.
"Mental health and the need for counselors in schools that could perhaps contribute significantly to creating a safer environment and addressing a lot of the mental health needs that are out there," said Zerwas.
Norman said he'll use his district as a catalyst for change.
"We will tell the story as many times as it needs to be told to make sure that we get this right," said Norman.
Representative Zerwas said improving school safety should be expected to be fast-tracked during the next session.