NAVASOTA, Texas (FOX 26) - Navasota ISD has approved a plan to arm their teachers when school resumes next month. In April, the school board approved to utilize the Guardian Plan on all seven of their campuses.
The district has approximately 3,500 students and faculty in total and is located a little over an hour northwest of Houston, close to College Station.
Superintendent Dr. Stu Musick said Navasota has never had any actual shootings in their district, but the hope is that this pro-active approach will allow authorized personnel to defend themselves in the event of an active shooter on campus.
Dr. Musick said allowing teachers and staff members to carry concealed handguns on campus is a cost-effective measure to help protect kids.
"You can train and authorize and approve personnel at a whole lot less money than hiring as many police officers as it might take to secure all of your campuses, or school resource officers," Musick said.
Not every teacher or staff member will be armed-- only those who volunteer. They'll also have to pass a stringent number of criteria in order to be approved by the district.
"It's not just anybody that gets their CHL. They have to qualify the same qualifications as a range instructor would have to qualify also. We've included a psychological evaluation component as well, which is not required by law by the Guardian Plan," Musick said.
No one knows exactly who is carrying, or even how many teachers are approved. Their identities are totally confidential, as protected by the Guardian Plan.
The ruling has certainly not gone without controversy-- reactions from students and parents, past and present, are mixed.
"I would probably take them out of that school. It could be harmful to other kids and people," Melissa Trammel said.
"I don't like it at all because it's like, why are you carrying a gun? They're just students," former Navasota student, Edith Gonzales said.
"I think it's a good idea with the way things are going today. It's an excellent idea," Ted Weitzel said.
The school is currently not providing the actual handgun, safes or locks on campus. Instead, each authorized teacher will have to keep their concealed handgun on them at all times.
Dr. Musick estimates supplies and training will cost Navasota about $20,000-25,000 a year. Musick said that's about half as much as the cost of hiring one officer.
"You can't do anything that prevents everything, obviously. But we'd like to think it's at least doing something, and would like to think it's a pro-active approach and not being reactive to anything, and having to decide what could we have done better after something had happened," Musick said.
Since this is entirely volunteer, teachers approved to carry won't be paid more for the additional responsibility.
Staff members will also have to purchase their own guns-- bringing it to school with them during the day and taking it home with them at night.
"I feel it's important that the weapon itself is something the employee is comfortable with. It's also not forcing teachers to carry a weapon and making people do something that they don't want to do or aren't comfortable doing," Musick said.
Classes at Navasota ISD resume August 27.