Skidmore-Tynan ISD is the latest district to join the Texas School Guardian Program.
Starting this fall, select staff will be armed in each of the district’s three schools, protecting around 830 students and 125 staff.
“We realized we needed to have the ability to respond immediately in the chance, the very slim chance there was an active shooter,” said S-TISD Superintendent Dustin Barton.
S-TISD considered starting its own police force, but district officials decided going with a Guardian program was a more efficient use of the district’s limited resources.
In order to be a Guardian, a staff member has to volunteer. If picked, potential Guardians need to have a license to carry. They also have to go through a rigorous training class, and pass a psychological evaluation.
“We’re not going to give access to every single person that requests it,” said Barton. “We really look into the background of the person. We need to determine if that person is able to respond in the event of an active shooter.”
In addition to Guardians, S-TISD will offer counseling and mental health services to students. The district is also looking into an app to notify parents, and secondary door locks are being installed in classrooms.
District parents applaud the efforts.
“I feel like my son going here knowing that they’re there in case something were to happen, that he’s going to feel safer,” said Lorraine Garner, whose son is going into 9th grade.
Officials believe these steps will help keep everyone at S-TISD schools safe.
“Students have to feel safe when they come to school, teachers have to feel safe when they come to school,” said Barton.
For security reasons, Barton wouldn’t say exactly how many Guardians the district plans to use. He says the first group has been picked, and starts training soon to be ready for the first day of school.