Special to the News-Times
AUSTIN — Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced he is initiating a plan to tap existing resources, as well as to seek additional resources, to ensure that security officers are placed in every Texas school cafeteria during mealtimes.
Miller said that such an effort should be part of any larger plan to improve school safety at both the state and national levels.
“Twenty-three years ago, when this modern-day madness began at Columbine High School in Colorado, the killers targeted the school cafeteria with bombs,” Miller said. “When the bombs failed to detonate the murderers opened fire with their guns. School cafeterias remain a large point of vulnerability in any school.”
Miller said he directed my staff to begin the process of determining what federal funds can be utilized for the program.
“We must make sure that cafeterias and lunch periods are part of the safety conversation at both the federal and state levels,” he said. “It is my hope that this program can move forward now, as federal or state legislative action may be over a year away.”
Miller said he will encourage the legislature to revisit House Bill 1009, which allows Texas school districts to appoint marshals to guard school premises; while most larger Texas high schools have some form of on-campus security, most Texas elementary schools do not. “This makes no sense, especially considering the recent tragedy at Robb Elementary as well as the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary nearly a decade ago,” he said. “Our elementary school students are our most vulnerable students. We must do everything we can to ensure their safety and security.”
Miller said he plans to work with both Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud, Texas 27 — the only Texan serving on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee — to develop strategies at both the state and federal levels.
“Our children’s safety should be our only priority as we move forward from these dreadful and tragic circumstances. I welcome anyone who is willing to work with us at the Texas Department of Agriculture to seek solutions to this large and complex problem. We owe it to our kids to get this right.”