Parents from Tanglewood Elementary, officers from the Fort Worth Police Department and City Council member Michael Crain spent Monday with lawmakers in Austin to push for armed security officers at every school in Texas.

The parents, who started the nonprofit Texans Against School Violence to address school safety in 2022, helped create a pilot program that places off-duty Fort Worth police officers at Tanglewood Elementary School with funding from parent donations.

Currently, middle and high schools in Fort Worth ISD have school resource officers, but not elementary schools. The group traveled to the Capitol to advocate for more funding for House Bill 3, a major piece of school safety legislation currently pending in committee that would require every public school to have at least one armed security officer.

“We want to advocate for additional funds and show them that we have a roadmap to get that done,” said Keeton Monahan, a board member for the nonprofit.

The group met with staff from Reps. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, and Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, and with Reps. Brad Buckley, R-Killeen, Cody Harris, R-Palestine, Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, and Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood. Burrows and Bonnen authored the bill and VanDeaver, Buckley, Harris and Geren are all coauthors. The group also met with Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, and with Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, who represents the district Tanglewood is in.

The board members – all parents – said the lawmakers they met with were enthusiastic about the bill and interested in learning more about their pilot program, including the training that officers go through to prepare them for working with children and the use of community police officers during off-duty hours, rather than one full-time school resource officer.

“It sounds like there’s enough support and there’s a good chance that House Bill 3 will go through,” said Charity Aughinbaugh, the organization’s treasurer. “Our biggest question is: Is there enough funding?”

Currently, the legislation provides roughly $10 per student to go toward funding an armed officer, but the group says that the proposed legislation would actually need much more funding to accomplish what the bill sets out to do.

Legislative staff “were looking at what it would actually cost and then realizing it’s a big number,” Aughinbaugh said. “They’re actually thinking it through thoroughly and not just thinking $10 per student is going to be beneficial.”

The bill, like most of this session’s legislation, still needs to pass in both the House and the Senate. House Speaker Dade Phelan said the bill was one of his priorities earlier this session.

“We saw so many positive things that came out of [our pilot program],” said Amber Spurgeon, the president and founder of the nonprofit. “We want to use our model and implement it in every school district, in every police department and in every city.”

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