‘It’s extremely painful’: Central Texas school officials reflect on fatal Nashville shooting, look to legislative change

A new house bill currently under consideration, HB 3, would require at least one armed security officer on every campus within a Texas school district
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 6:30 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - School safety continues to be top of mind in Central Texas districts, especially after the fatal shooting at a Nashville school on Monday that killed six people, three of them being children.

The tragedy has garnered local and national attention, with President Joe Biden urging legislative change.

Some changes may be happening in Texas, as talks of a massive school safety bill, HB 3, are underway. If passed, the bill would require at least one armed security officer on every campus within a school district.

Many Central Texas school districts, like Axtell ISD, Salado ISD, and Midway ISD, are on board, even though all three already having safety protocols like keycard-only entryways and bullet resistant glass in place.

HB 3 could be especially impactful for districts like Axtell ISD, which currently doesn’t have a designated armed security officer, despite having other trained personnel on campus.

But Axtell ISD’s superintendent, JR Proctor, says filling that position isn’t as easy as it seems.

“They’ve got to be trained specifically and they need to work with the staff, and so that is someone who needs to be a part of the fabric, and have a high level of law enforcement tactical training,” Proctor told KWTX.

As for Salado ISD, which does already have armed law enforcement officers on all campuses, passing HB 3 would be beneficial, even if the funding for it is minimal.

“I’m glad this bill at least addresses some funding for this, although not enough to cover all the cost of it,” Mike Novotny, the superintendent of Salado ISD, said. “But funding is certainly an issue.”

At Midway ISD, which also has armed security officers on campus, superintendent Chris Allen shares similar concerns. He hopes that the Texas legislature not only passes HB 3, but takes a comprehensive approach to school safety in doing so.

“We have to make sure there’s real resources committed to mental health and wellness,” Allen told KWTX. “We have to make sure there’s real resources committed to personnel specifically trained in helping students with these issues. And if our state doesn’t take that into account when thinking about how to address these issues, we’re never going to get where we need to be.”

Waco ISD’s superintendent, Dr. Susan kincannon, also weighed in on HB 3, saying in a statement that, “We have yet to see any significant investment from the Texas legislature that funds proactive safety measures and improves mental health support for our students. While HB 3 includes a funding mechanism, it isn’t sufficient.”