AUSTIN, Texas - Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced on Monday he will donate 10 metal detectors to the Santa Fe Independent School District.
With the donations, the school district can update the security of its entryways before school starts in August - pending approval by the local school board.
The moves comes a month and a half after the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School on May 18 where 10 people were killed and 13 others injured after a gunman opened fire in classrooms.
The detectors will be made by Garrett Metal Detectors, a Texas company, that's also donating detectors to the district.
The company has also offered to perform a security analysis and train Santa Fe ISD staff at no cost.
Patrick also said the State will reimburse other districts up to 50 percent, if they purchase metal detectors or wands.
“We will pass a matching program to offset the costs of metal detectors for the districts that want them. Some will, some won’t, and it’s part of our comprehensive plan for school security,” he said.
Part of that plan, according to the Lt. Governor says, came out of the round-table discussions held at the Capital, following the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School.
Students and top law-makers talked about security measures and concerns. Not at all 1,200 districts in the state want metal detectors; some districts want school personnel, such as teachers, to be armed.
Patrick says the state is paying for the Marshall training of 140 school staff this summer. Better behavioral and mental health services are among what students universally demanded.
They were also pushing for emergency exit doors that close and lock automatically, so that no one can get in.
Newer schools in Texas already have these types of doors, but older buildings do not.
“When President Trump and Governor Abbott and I met with the victims a few weeks ago, there was great concern that the exit doors needed to be emergency, push-bar doors that we’re all familiar with, so I’ve already committed to pay for all those doors to be replaced at every school in the state,” said Patrick.
Many students are also calling for gun safety reforms, including age restrictions and laws requiring how guns are stored.
On Monday, Patrick’s Democratic challenger Mike Collier, called Patrick’s donation of metal detectors, a “stunt” and “symbolic gesture.”
In a statement, Collier stated that Patrick, “effectively blocked the prompt implementation of comprehensive school and gun safety measures that were developed in the immediate aftermath of the Santa Fe murders.”
The Lt. Governor says metal detectors at schools in Dallas have proved to be a deterrent for bringing in weapons. The average cost of a metal detector is $4,000.
The next Legislative session will be in January of 2019, when the Senate will vote to sign off on the 50 percent reimbursements of metal detectors.
Other security measures will also be on the table. Student activists say they plan on being very vocal before and after the election, about all the school security measures they want passed.
Patrick issued the following statement on the metal detectors on Monday:
“On the day of the shooting in Santa Fe, I made securing the entrances and exits to our schools a top priority. Santa Fe parents have asked for immediate action to secure the entrances to their schools and I want to make sure that if the Santa Fe ISD School Board wants to install metal detectors they can do so.
“Today I am also pledging that the Texas Senate will create a new matching fund program in the next legislative session for other schools that want to install metal detectors or use wands for inspection. Schools that install detectors or buy wands before next session can be reimbursed retroactively through the matching program.
“We know we need a comprehensive plan to secure our schools statewide and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy. Each district will decide the path best for them.”