State of Texas officials pledged $105.5 million for school safety and mental health initiatives in response to the events which took place on May 24. A shooter invaded Uvalde elementary school and killed 19 students and two teachers.
The funding will support programs for improving mental health and school safety. The declaration complies with Republicans’ desire to put more emphasis on mental health and “school hardening”—equipping schools to deter would-be shooters from entering—than on legislation restricting access to firearms or ammunition.
According to Governor Greg Abbott’s order, school district police officers, district-hired officers, and other law enforcement personnel who might be called to school safety crises will receive the bullet-resistant shields. These shields for law officers will be paid for with nearly half of the $100.5 million allocated for education-related expenses.
Not Overlooking Mental Health
State leaders also approved $5 million for the Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Centers. The purpose is to study mental health services in Uvalde and write a report for the Legislature on the community’s needs. Governor Abbott earlier announced a $5 million investment to create a long-term Family Resiliency Center in Uvalde County to provide mental health assistance.
According to officials, The Texas Education Agency received $100.5 million in appropriations, and the Health and Human Services Commission received $5 million in appropriations for the Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Centers. The budget excess that made the education financing possible won’t have an impact on present school operations or funding.
Leaders Speak Out for the Safety of Schools
The announcement came from Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, Senate Finance Committee Chair Joan Huffman, R-Houston, and House Appropriations Chair Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood.
Gov. Dan Patrick said, “In the upcoming session, we will build on the $100 million we appropriated in 2019 after the Santa Fe (high school shooting) tragedy, for these issues, and more,”.
In response to the funding news, Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina stated that stricter gun laws are required to combat school shootings. “The $105.5 million for school safety is divided equally among the 1,000 plus school districts in Texas. These funds will run out fast and will do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of people who intend to harm our students and educators on school campuses,” Molina added.