ROUND ROCK (KXAN) — Round Rock ISD is holding a series of public meetings in an effort to determine whether the community supports the creation of a Round Rock ISD Police Department, and also find out what other safety measures it either supports or disapproves.
At the first community meeting on Monday, the overwhelming majority of attendees said they did not want the district to form its own force.
“Police officers are there to enforce the law, they’re there to help with crime, these children aren’t criminals,” said Makita Johnson, who has three sons in the district and worries disciplinary matters would turn into criminal ones if the district starts up its own police department.
Others asked the district to rely more heavily on the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, which currently provides deputies to serve as school resource officers.
“It puts a tremendous amount of power in the hands of the superintendent, which would allow him to control the narrative about crime and safety and schools,” said Round Rock resident Marshall Sprigg.
The district is in a bit of a pinch, trying to come up with a new plan after one of its law enforcement partners, Round Rock Police, told the district it could no longer provide officers after the 2020-21 school year.
The district says it’s exploring all possibilities.
“The goal is to make sure that we’re covering every option available, so that we can explore information in many different areas when it comes to safety and security,” said RRISD Director of Safety and Security Jeffrey Yarbrough.
At the meeting, members of the community spoke directly to a safety and security task force created by the district.
RRISD will hold another public meeting Tuesday at Cedar Ridge High School at 6:30 p.m.
After that, the task force will create and present a report to the school board consisting of three to five options on how to improve security. Each option will have pros and cons listed.
Starting a department is expected to cost the district $2.7 million which is $450,000 more than it currently pays for local law enforcement to provide school resource officers.
However, some believe that would be money well spent.
“It’s the right direction to go with our own police department because it’s going to be money well spent, and it’s going to be where we can easily monitor it at a district level,” said parent Randall Goltzman.
In order to be fully staffed, the district says it needs 22 school resource officers, two for each high school and one at each middle school.