For many North Texas students, school's out for summer but while they’re on break, there's work happening behind the scenes to tighten school security.
In May after the Sante Fe school shooting in Texas, Governor Greg Abbott announced money could be made available to help school districts train and arm teachers. Governor Abbott says the state already has 70-million dollars available for some of the recommendations of his 40-point plan that includes arming educators. The Texas Education Agency is discussing how to use another $62-million in federal funding.
In Collin County, Celina ISD is the latest to consider the idea.
“We love our kids, we pour our lives into our students, so their safety and security is an emotional thing for us,” said Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services John Mathews.
This summer, Celina ISD is asking families to weigh in on if the district should pick a select group of staff and train them to carry guns on campus. A survey is going out to parents over email and on social media.
“When we have something this substantial that’s going to impact schools across the district, we’re really we really want to know what they think,” said Mathews. “When you do arm someone in a school building, that's a big deal we take that very seriously.”
Catherine Smit-Torrez, a security consultant and private investigator, who worked as a police chief and school district police captain tells NBC 5 she was once against arming teachers in school. She says she’s since changed her mind.
“I'm a huge proponent for it. I've gone all the way to the other side,” said Smit-Torrez.
She said arming teachers may be the right move, as long as staff are willing to take on the role. Training and psychological tests are also key, she said.
“We're doing our best under the circumstances,” said Smit-Torrez. “Doing nothing is not helping us right now.”
In Celina, parents have until August 1 to complete the survey. From there, Mathews says the school board will decide if arming teachers would work in Celina.
“We're supposed to be inviting the community in, we're supposed to be inviting the students in. It's a place of learning and we don't want to make it a prison,” said Mathews. “We have to balance the invitation to come and learn with the security and safety of the students.”