MANOR, Texas (KXAN) — As Manor’s population has spiked over the last several years, so has Manor ISD’s enrollment.
The district has been building new schools to accommodate the influx, and this year it’s expanding its staff of school resource officers to seven, up from four last year. Travis County commissioners will vote Tuesday night to approve two new SROs from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, and the third new role this year comes from the Manor Police Department.
Manor ISD opened its new Senior High School this year, following the opening of New Tech Middle School and a Lagos Elementary School last year. Construction crews are still working on New Tech High School, adjacent to the middle school.
“One of the questions that came up from the parents and the community was, ‘Are we going to expand the number of SROs in the district?'” assistant superintendent of operations Dr. Scott Moger said.
The partnership between the district and Manor PD doesn’t provide the same SRO stationed at Manor New Tech Middle, but instead provides for a rotation of several officers who want to work the extra shifts.
Det. Lawrence Rideau, who’s been with MPD for three years, worked his first shift Monday. Patrolling the cafeteria while the 6th graders ate lunch, he handed out high-fives and stickers, asking students about their classes.
“They brighten up our days,” he said, “because there’s a lot of stuff that we deal with that’s very dark.”
The district and police department are working out whether they can provide a single full-time SRO for the school instead of rotating, but unless and until that happens, Rideau is content to sacrifice his days off to work every other Monday.
“I believe it’s nowadays we really need officers on all of these campuses to help the staff, the students feel safe,” he said.
The Travis County Sheriff’s Office provides SROs to 5 school districts around central Texas, totaling 16 officers and two sergeants. All their SROs are assigned to specific campuses, a spokesperson said.
Austin ISD, meanwhile, has its own police force, comprising 78 full-time officers, 43 of whom are school resource officers.
Manor ISD added more than 250 students this year, and about that same number last year. The administration expects their enrollment to spike considerably over the next few years, which will mean police protection will continue to grow with it.
“I hope these relationships get a little stronger,” Rideau said, “help the kids feel more comfortable with us.”