Texas Gov. Abbott proposes $120M for school safety after Santa Fe shooting

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a 40-point school safety plan Wednesday in response to a shooting at Santa Fe High School in which a 17-year-old student shot and killed 10 people on May 18. Photo courtesy of the Harris County Sheriff

May 30 (UPI) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new school safety plan Wednesday that could make $120 million in grants available to districts in response to a deadly shooting at a high school in Santa Fe earlier this month.

Abbott released the 40-point plan outlining a number of possible changes in legislation and school policy focusing on mental health treatment, law enforcement and gun safety laws.

A 17-year-old student shot and killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School near Houston on May 18.

The plan would provide more than $120 million in state and federal grants for school districts to select solutions they see fit to protect students and faculty.

“This plan is a starting point, not an ending place,” Abbott said, according to the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth. “It provides strategies that can be used before the next school year begins to keep our students safe when they return to school.”

Abbot said said some schools may seek to make changes to their infrastructure and design of their buildings by limiting entrances and exits in order to more closely monitor who enters and exits the campuses.

He also said he wouldn’t propose that schools be required to join the so-called School Marshal Program, which arms educators and other school staff, but noted the state offers grants up to $10,000 for schools interested in training additional school marshals.

“When an active shooter situation arises, the difference between life and death can be a matter of seconds,” Abbott said. “Trained security personnel can make all the difference.”

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The plan includes measures to identify a potential or active shooter, including expanding the Campus Crime Stoppers program to allow more students to share info about a potential threat and adding special active shooter alarm systems. It also proposes creating more “fusion centers” to allow law enforcement agencies to share and investigate more information, including social media activity, on potential suspects.

Abbott also suggested increasing the number of school counselors and providing more funding for mental health evaluations to identify students at risk of committing school violence.

Also included in the plan are proposals tightening gun storage laws, such as raising the age of child gun access prevention laws to include 17-year-olds like Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who authorities said used his father’s gun to carry out the Santa Fe attack.

The plan was released a day after students returned to the school for the first time.

Abbot said some portions of the plan, such as training more school marshals this summer, could take effect immediately, while some require approval from the Texas Legislature.

The legislature isn’t set to reconvene until January 2019, but Abbott said he would be willing to intervene if lawmakers can come to an agreement.

“If there is consensus on some laws that could be passed, I am open to calling (a special session),” he said.

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