SAN MARCOS, Texas — San Marcos CISD has more than 8,000 students enrolled. With the growing threat of school shootings, the district plans to implement some changes.
“Our students live with the constant anxiety of school shooters,” said a concerned San Marcos pastor.
Anxious parents flocked to the San Marcos CISD school board meeting. Many were uneasy about the idea of adding a school marshal program.
"We can do better than just more guns,” said one parent. “We’ve seen over and over again more guns ain’t working.”
Despite pushback, the board voted 6-1 to pursue the implementation of marshals.
“School safety has been a top priority for the district for many years,” said Andrew Fernandez, the district’s chief of communications.
He says school marshals are something they’ve considered for years, even before the tragedy in Uvalde.
“We’re not going to put guns in the hands of school teachers and just add an extra responsibility,” Fernandez said.
Instead, the district intends to hire retired police or military as marshals, requiring that they train with the San Marcos Police Department.
“School marshals would be trained on all of this,” said San Marcos Chief of Police Stan Standridge.
Standridge says they already have five uniformed school resource officers at secondary campuses, but they need more help.
“Our response time to a priority one in progress call is about 8.5 minutes,” said Chief Standridge.
The national response average for an active attack is three minutes. Chief Standridge says marshal applicants would go through similar law enforcement TCOLE certification.
“A psychological assessment, a comprehensive background investigation, then you have to pass an 80-hour initial licensure course,” said Chief Standridge.
When district parents were surveyed about the importance of SRO’s on campus, the majority agreed. Over 10 years, San Marcos’ population has grown by 42%. The chief says crime has increased as well.
“Our violent crime in the same decade has grown 151%,” said Chief Standridge.
As officers focus on combating crime, school marshals can solely focus on campus security, the first line of defense.
“They would be doing the daily, if not weekly, security audits. Filling out the work orders for maintenance issues that ultimately are safety issues,” said Chief Standridge. “Chances are, a lot of these things are not being done.”
The district hasn’t determined how many marshals to hire or when the pilot will be implemented.
“We want to start slow,” Fernandez said. “We want to make sure this program is going to be successful…and we want the community feedback and what that does look like.”