The Leander ISD Board of Trustees discussed the creation of a school district police department at its August 24 meeting.
During the recently concluded legislative session, the passing of House Bill 3 requires school districts to place an armed security officer at each campus, among other requirements.
Due to a lack of funding and available personnel, Leander ISD is pursuing a “good cause” exception, allowing the district time to implement an “alternative standard” to meet the requirements of the bill. The district’s alternative standard recommendation includes the formation of an LISD police department.
Funding and logistical challenges aside, an in-house police department would come with its own set of benefits. Existing practice has LISD with School Resource Officers (SROs) at each high school through partnerships with the Leander and Cedar Park police departments and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
“With an in-house police department, it could be easier for us to hire these roles compared to the staffing challenges faced by surrounding law enforcement departments,” said Bryan Miller, executive director of student support, relaying feedback they have received through community partners on LISD’s Safety & Security Committee. “It also would simplify internal communication and collaboration processes by having one system compared to the current model of working with three and sometimes four entities.”
To meet the requirements of HB3, the creation of an in-house police department would encompass 35 SROs for middle school and high school, along with 32 Single Role Marshals for LISD’s elementary and alternative schools.
This would happen over a nine- to 18-month process and would incorporate an application and inspection by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE); the purchase of uniforms, vehicles, weapons and other necessary equipment; and a series of training requirements.
Funding from HB3 would provide LISD with approximately $1.1 million. Preliminary budget estimates for the armed security officer requirement – not the only requirement in the bill – project an ongoing cost of $4.8 million, with an additional $2.8 million of start-up costs.
At the Sept. 7 meeting, the LISD board will consider a resolution for a good cause exception. More deliberation over what the district’s alternative standard will look like and planning for the possibility of an LISD police department will take place over the coming months. The district will publish additional information as it becomes available.
This update was first published in the Leander ISD Board Briefs.