AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District confirmed with KXAN Thursday that some of its police staff positions will be cut as part of the upcoming budget changes.
“It is true that our Central Office and operations staff, including our Police Department was affected by the staffing cuts due to our budget deficit,” AISD said in an email.
On Friday, AISD clarified no active patrol officers were cut, but 15 previously vacant positions were eliminated for the 2022-2023 school year. The district said 76 sworn officers will be serving with the district’s police department.
AISD reports the number of school resource officers will not change. Those are law enforcement officers from other departments that are permanently assigned to schools.
“This will allow the police department positions to be fully staffed at the high and middle school campuses as well as providing daytime patrol coverages,” a spokesperson for the district explained.
The Austin ISD Police Association said the cuts are a “large step in the wrong direction,” according to a statement.
“While the positions cut were vacant, not filling those positions with certified police officers is what our association considers a large step in the wrong direction regarding school safety,” the statement reads in part. “The reduction includes funds allotted for police equipment and training. The cuts also impact the mental health component of the department.”
Middle and high school campuses have dedicated officers, she said, while elementary schools do not. They are patrolled by officers.
She said covering these campuses was the priority “during the school hours,” so some night patrol officers will be reassigned to a campus or daytime patrol.
In response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, AISD is upping security to finish the school year. A letter to parents said, in part:
For the rest of this week you will see additional officers on patrol and supplementingAISD letter
coverage on campuses. Also, high school-based officers will cover elementary
schools and middle schools promptly after dismissals at their assigned campuses.
AISD PD officers are following up with campus administrators on safety protocols
and emergency plans. You will also see enhanced security at our graduation ceremonies.
Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde referenced those measures in Thursday night’s board meeting, and also spoke emotionally about the shooting in Uvalde.
“We mourn their loss and in thinking about there loss It is natural to worry about whether that can happen here. We will continue to do whatever it takes to keep our children and staff safe. You will see more officers on patrol. We will reinforce campuses with additional presence. We will double-check our security plans,” she said.
According to the AISD Police Department website, there are 89 full-time police officers currently on staff. That includes 43 school resource officers, 20 patrol officers and two mental health coordinators. The website also states there are two school resource officers assigned to every high school and one to every middle school. Patrol officers patrol and respond to service calls at the elementary schools.
KXAN will update this article when AISD provides more information on what the AISD PD cuts entail.