Following an April 16 hearing, House Bill 4342 was approved by the House Public Education Committee the next day. HB 4342 now advances with the committee’s full support.
HB 4342 would add a licensed architect to the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) Board of Directors. TxSSC is the official, university-supported research center at Texas State whose mission is to serve schools and communities in creating safe, secure and healthy learning environments. At Tuesday’s hearing Laura Sachtleben, AIA, a nationally recognized education-design architect and 2019 chair of the School Safety Work Group, testified on behalf of the Texas Society of Architects (TxA) about the architect’s important role in designing for health, safety and welfare without sacrificing educational opportunity.
One of the most significant challenges Texans face is determining the needs of existing schools to bring them to an acceptable level of safety and security, including the costs associated with those improvements.
Given the size of Texas and its incredible environmental variables, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The TxA School Safety Work Group has said, “We cannot stress enough the importance of engaging all stakeholders at each campus to understand not just the physical condition of the facility but also its geographic location, operational plan, and required threat-response procedures to meet the concerns raised by faculty and staff, local law enforcement and first responders, parents and students.”
TxA believes bringing an architect to the table will help foster a more holistic approach to educational design. No single solution can guarantee a tragedy won’t occur, but with architects designing in response to the perspectives of all school stakeholders the best possible solution for each campus and every district can be achieved.
HB 4342 now moves to the Calendars Committees where a date will be set for consideration by the full House. The Government Relations team said they “would like to thank Representative Clardy for authoring the bill and effectively championing the issue.”
Once out of the House, the bill will go to the Senate for similar review and consideration, and then to the Governor for his signature.