Lawmakers pushing funds to install school safety, mental health

Lawmakers pushing funds to install school safety, mental health programs

AUSTIN, Texas -

Mental health and school safety, a top priority among lawmakers during session, especially after the Santa Fe shooting in May.

Governor Abbott, mentioned a program named TWITR from TTUHSC in his State of the State address.

TWITR stands for tele-medicine, wellness, intervention, triage and referral. It's used at ten school districts across West Texas. Part of the push for safer schools is mental health, which is why lawmakers pushing funds towards installing TWITR statewide.

"I just feel that it’s a crucial time our students are going through whether it’s middle school or high school, they just have a lot on their plate," Lubbock-Cooper Middle School Principal, Tami Gunset expressed.

According to Gunset, Lubbock-Cooper Middle School has used the TWITR project for about six years and it's worked well in the district.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick also expressed he's fully invested in school safety measure this session. Whether it's a project like TWITR, or allowing armed teachers.

“You can never prevent every terrible thing from happening in life, but we can surely doing everything we can and we’re going to be spending some significant funds in this session to help make our schools more secure. My wife and I purchased and donated 10 metal detectors to Santa Fe School as did the company, we wanted to set that school up for the model for other schools to follow," the Lieutenant Governor shared. "Not every school wants metal detectors, not every PTA or group of parents would want to leave that a local decision, but we’re going to fund and help a matching grant program for every school that wants to do that. We’re also going to fund for teachers who want to be armed, schools would make that decision so we’d pay for that training and we want to Harden our facilities so we’re very focused on that issue this session.“

Lawmakers from the Lubbock area, also ensured this is a top priority.

”We’ve met one on one with almost every superintendent in the districts and I realized all of them care sincerely about school safety and it keeps them up at night," Representative Dustin Burrows said. "And they’re all implementing and utilizing so many different tools to try to prevent these types of heinous murders from happening again and of course those who are using TWITR or similar programs I think have found it to be very effective and that’s very promising“ 

According to Representative John Frullo, “It identifies problems before they occur and early detection and that’s what we talked about. Whether it’s safety, whether it’s about health, a lot of different items, that’s how we monitor items."

According to the Lt. Governor, he believes TWITR is an efficient way to protect students, and could work for any kind of district.

”We’re looking at every program that has been successful," the Lt. Governor said. "This is a program that has been successful, so we leave it up to local choice, but we surely would like other schools and districts to look at it and it could be great not only statewide, but nationwide plan.“

However, State Senator Charles Perry questioned if the program would work well in both rural and urban communities.

“I think that’s where the money’s gonna go. To figure out can we truly take this," Senator Perry said. "There’s other programs that came out of Sandy Hook that may be more appropriate. There’s two or three writers that’s been in this for a while, so we’re just going to take the best practices of all and make a state-wide program.”

At this time, Gunset said she's confident TWITR has saved lives.

“I would think that a TWITR project would make someone feel safe it’s disconnected from home or school that they can confide in and get information,"

Lubbock ISD has not adopted the program yet, however the board has plans to address it Thursday (2/28).

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