AUSTIN, Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott and state legislators have made a swift move to help Uvalde rebuild after the Robb Elementary shooting and enhance school safety across the state.
This comes just a little over five months since the Robb Elementary massacre claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers.
On Thursday, the governor announced a transfer of $874.6 million for “public safety initiatives,” which will support border security and school safety over the next two years.
Of these funds, $15 million will be allocated to Uvalde to aid in the construction of a new elementary school, and $400 million will go toward helping Texas school districts replace/upgrade doors, windows, fencing, communications and other safety measures, according to a news release.
The rest of the funds will be allocated as follows:
- $339 million to the Texas Military Department for continued border security activities related to Operation Lone Star;
- $20.6 million to support other state agencies under Operation Lone Star to continue responding to the border crisis; and
- $100 million to the Texas Division of Emergency Management for COVID-19 response expenses.
It’s unknown how the $400 million will be divided among Texas school districts or how much each one will receive.
Judson ISD in Live Oak said in a statement Thursday that it could be that only certain districts receiving funds for school safety, but details haven’t been announced from Abbott.
“Governor Abbott has not provided any guidance on how much money a district will or could receive, whether it will be provided based on enrollment or as a competitive grant program, which means only select districts would receive funds. The press release Judson independent school district does not indicate when the funds would be received. Our commitment is to diligently continue the work of closing any and every gap to make our schools as safe as they can be with the funds we have available. If our bond proposal passes, we intend to begin projects listed in Proposition A as soon as possible.”
Earlier this month, Abbott created the Texas Education Agency’s first chief of school safety and security position. Former U.S. Secret Service agent John P. Scott has already started in the new role, according to The Texas Tribune.
In the position, Scott will “take every action possible to ensure schools are using best practices to safeguard against school shootings or other dangers,” according to a press release.
The governor has received criticism from many for his handling of the Uvalde school shooting on May 24.
Abbott shared misinformation about the police response not long after the shooting and received backlash for saying this phrase at the press conference: “It could have been worse. The reason it was not worse is because law enforcement officials did what they do.”
Despite many lawmakers and community members pushing for Abbott to call a special session on gun safety in the months after the shooting, he has yet to honor the request.
The governor said Thursday the state “will continue supporting Uvalde” to heal and rebuild going forward.
“The State of Texas is working around the clock to support critical public safety efforts, including protecting communities across the state from the increasing threats pouring across our southern border, as well as enhancing the security of Texas schools,” said Abbott in a news release. “Texas continues providing support to the Uvalde community in the aftermath of tragedy as they rebuild. I thank my legislative partners for the swift allocation of these additional funds to ensure the ongoing safety and security of all Texans. Working together, we will continue boosting public safety statewide and supporting Uvalde in their efforts to heal and move forward.”
The next legislative session will consider “school safety issues, including additional school safety funding,” according to Abbott.