AUSTIN - The first three rows at the last board meeting of the year for Austin Independent School District is full of Austin ISD Police officers.
What draws them out on rainy Monday evening: concerns about what they believe is a lack of officers and pay.
Several Austin ISD officers spoke during the public comment section. Officer Jaclyn Hein talked about her patrol of the Southeast and Southwest portions of the school district.
Hein says sometimes she is the only officer assigned to those areas, which covers about 42 schools.
She often worries she wouldn't be prepared to respond to an incident like the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting.
“As I patrol my sector alone, I often think about what my course of action would be if there was a tragedy such as that here, and how long it would take me to respond to one of our schools -- not knowing where my backup was coming from,” Hein said.
Officer Tony Calderon addressed the board about a better pay scale. Currently, officers start out making around $45,000 to $49,000.
He says some officers believed they have been cheated, and they're disappointed about what they feel is a lack of consistency.
“They’re new officers, fresh from the academy, making more money than police officers that have two to three times more experience than those officers, and they're the ones being trained,” Calderon said.
The officers' concerns come a year after former Austin ISD Police Chief told KVUE in an interview that the department lost 13 officers during the 2015-2016 school year, primarily due to salary issues.
The Austin ISD Police Association said they're close to losing the same amount of officers this school year.
Austin ISD Superintendent Dr.Paul Cruz stated during the board meeting that he wants an update on the pay scale, retention rates, and the scope of work when it comes to police officers.
Cruz also stated district officials will be studying the pay scale for officers for the 2018-2019 school year.
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