The number of Texas school districts with policies allowing teachers and other staff to carry guns has increased almost 50 percent since a gunman killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School in May.
According to a December survey by the Texas Association of School Boards, 315 school districts — more than 30 percent of all districts in the state — have adopted a policy giving educators the option of being armed. That’s up from 217 in May and 172 in February, when 17 people were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
Carolyn Counce, director of policy service at TASB, said the actual count could be higher because it’s based on information volunteered by their member districts.
Of the 315 districts reported to TASB, 303 have adopted Guardian Plans, a local policy with individual terms decided by the board of trustees. Twelve districts have opted to participate in the state-controlled School Marshal Program.
Tom Kelley with the Texas School Safety Center said it’s likely that number will continue to grow.
“It really depends a great deal on funding, I think, in a lot of cases. There are a lot of school districts that do not wish to go in that direction, and I’m sure all of us wish that wasn’t necessary,” Kelley said.
A spokesperson for Austin Independent School District said the district does not have a policy allowing teachers to carry firearms.
"We fully trust our police department and believe they are fully capable and dedicated to ensuring the safety of our students and staff," Cristina Nguyen said by text.
Kelley said most districts arming educators are in rural areas with limited access to law enforcement.
A district in San Antonio may soon be an exception to the rule. East Central ISD, which is considering adopting the policy, has its own police department.
Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille