BALLINGER - The Ballinger Independent School District could be arming a select number of staff members on campus before the end of the school year, officials said last week.

BALLINGER - The Ballinger Independent School District could be arming a select number of staff members on campus before the end of the school year, officials said last week.

Superintendent Jeff Butts said the district is "very close" to implementing the Guardian Plan, a program to arm a select number of BISD staff members to be a stop-gap measure in active shooter incidents. The armed staff program is a security measure to provide safety for students and staff during the time that law enforcement is in route to an incident.

Butts said last week, several staff members are currently going through the process of being approved for the program.

He said only a few staffers are currently undergoing the approval process, which includes psychological testing. He said once the first group is approved, then applications will be accepted from other staff members.

Texas is among at least eight states that have passed laws since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., allowing school employees to carry guns on campus, the National Conference of State Legislatures has said. As of 2014 at least 110 of Texas' 1,024 districts have reported adopting a "school guardian" plan in which designated staff are authorized to carry a gun, up from one district before Sandy Hook, according to the Texas Association of School Boards.

Butts said the district will provide the equipment and training.

"We are in the process of securing a trainer," Butts said adding the professional training is very important.

Those staff members who are selected to participate, will be offered extended benefits to be part of the program. The BISD board still may consider a stipend to be paid to participants.

Butts declined to say how many staffers have been selected so far.
Since rolling out the proposed plan in June of 2016, Butts has spoken to groups all over the community and held a community–wide forum, which included members of the Ballinger Police Department and Runnels County Sheriff’s Department.

Other educators and staffers who wish to apply for the program must also: 

*Volunteer for the program.

*Sign a confidentiality statement.

*Submit to screening to be done by a trainer before entering the program.

*Submit to psychological testing similar to law enforcement.

*Pass active shooter training that will be mandated by the BISD board.

*Must have name submitted to BISD board for approval.

Plus, volunteers will have to train four times per year and participate in target and active shooter training during the summer.

"We want to take our time and make sure we do everything right," Butts said. "We take this decision extremely seriously."