A Lone Star Solution: School Safety

In the wake of an unacceptable number of school shootings, the country is in agreement that something must be done.  As far as what should be done, well, we seem to be even more divided than we are on most other political issues – and in America that’s saying something.

As the federal government attempts – and fails – to reach a consensus on how to improve school safety nationwide, Texas has offered the most logical solution: let local communities decide for themselves how to improve security as well as how to pay for it.

As the Dallas Morning News reported:

If passed, the Texas School District Security Act would allow taxpayers to decide through a local election whether to increase taxes to create a funding source for enhancing school security.

The money would help beef up security with the presence of licensed and trained peace officers, metal detectors or other measures only at the campuses taxpayers and school districts approve.

“This is a Texas solution that will save lives without sacrificing our freedoms or trampling on our Second Amendment rights, and each one of us will sleep better knowing our local communities have safety measures and that our children can learn and grow in a safe environment,” said Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, who is co-author of the bipartisan bill with Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, and Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Humble.

The bill probably will not include allocation of state funds to subsidize the program or its expansion onto higher education campuses.

The most important part of the soon-to-be proposed bill is the fact that state funds will not subsidize the program; through tax hikes, local communities will have to fund the program themselves if they wish to spend more on school security.

It would be unfair to force all Texans to pay for statewide school security increases, especially because different school districts would require different amounts of funding.  Plano Independent School District, for example, will hire armed private guards for its campuses at an annual cost of $2.7 million.  Dallas Independent School District’s annual $13 million budget employs 125 police officers.  With a state as diverse as ours – El-Paso, Houston, Texarkana, Austin, Odessa, Brownsville, San Antonio, Amarillo – one can only imagine that the security needs and costs would be just as diverse.

Every community is different; approaches to improving safety should be different too.  Not only would leaving the decision to local communities be more financially fair, it would allow school districts to utilize various methods to secure campuses – methods that would take into account the preferences of local taxpayers.  That’s important, because, after all, it’s the safety of the taxpayers’ children at stake.