Gov. Abbott releases plan to protect students from shooters

Gov. Abbott releases plan to protect students from shooters

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The Governor's School and Firearm Safety Action Plan, which aims to harden school security, is the result of the tragic shooting at a Santa Fe high school where eight students and two teachers were murdered. 

The plan would heighten police presence on campuses offering $10,000 grants drawing from federal funds to hire more officers. It also recommends hiring retired peace offers and military vets for school security.

On top of that, the Governors plan would loosen restrictions on the school marshal program that allows a limited number of teachers to carry firearms. 

In his remarks, Gov. Abbott said the one strategy he encourages the most is investing in mental health. He suggests expanding the Telemedicine Wellness, Intervention, Triage, and Referral  Project (TWITR) which monitors students social media to search for clues about shooters' intentions before they act. The program then puts those students through a mental health screening to determine if they should be removed from the classroom.

The Governor also called for more crisis intervention counselors in the schools. Nancy Sharp with Lubbock ISD said it is something that could greatly help. 

"We certainly need more counselors, that's been something we've been trying to ramp up, that's a huge priority," Sharp said.

She said many of the priorities Abbott present are already being developed and prioritized within its schools.

"We've dusted out our facilities piece and we're looking at some of the things that we could do. We had community meetings in April to gain input from all our community members to talk about, what are the things that they see as places the schools are vulnerable and how could we address those. We put together a committee that will start meeting in June to go through some of those facility things and talk about some of the things we could do to help continue to harden our facilities."

She said recognizing the problems is one thing but funding the solutions is a different story.

"Funding has been a big problem so we're hoping that as Governor Abbott is speaking to the Legislature to provide more funding for school districts for those wrap around services via priority. That's something that we have done to the very best of our ability with the existing resources."

Abbott suggests the funding will be there; "The plan includes more than a $120 million in funding strategies to help schools implement these solutions immediately at no cost to the schools," he said.

The money would come from both state and federal grants. 

More on the plan: Abbott's school safety plan includes few gun restrictions

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