ROUND ROCK, Texas — Come June 2021, Round Rock ISD will have to put the finishing touches on hiring its own police department personnel to provide security to all of its schools.
The school district is the largest in Williamson County, and according to RRISD Trustees, has partnered with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office for decades. As of this past Tuesday, the county's Commissioner Court declined to vote on a motion to extend the partnership between WCSO and RRISD.
“What if the hands start going up saying how about me, cover me, cover me?" Commissioner Terry Cook said. "All of a sudden, are we providing a platoon – which is 50 people – to the school districts?”
Cook made a motion to approve the continuation of the partnership, but nobody seconded the motion to force a vote. Trustees were surprised the motion was not seconded. According to Cook, RRISD is the only district that has School Resource Officers from the Sheriff's Office.
"I personally believe the disadvantages (of having our own police department) outweigh the advantages because it’s going to cost a lot more money to build our own police department and the quality is unknown," Steve Math, the Board of Trustees vice president said. "We love our SRO’s and we prefer that quality.”
“I do think, personally, that it would have been easier to go with Williamson County," Board of Trustees President Amy Weir said. "They’re already established, they’re our law enforcement provider in almost all of our schools.”
Currently, RRISD partners with the sheriff's office, Round Rock police and Austin Community College to provide security. At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, ACC will be ending its contract with RRISD. Come the end of the 2020-2021 school year in June, WCSO and RRPD will be ending their contracts with the district.
Earlier this year, Round Rock Police cited a lack of staffing levels to be able to provide security for schools come 2021.
“I would say the majority of our parents do feel more comfortable having an officer on our middle school and high school campuses," Weir said.
Weir and Math noted the RRISD Police Department would be answering to the district superintendent as a supervisor.
"It’s similar to what we have now: so one SRO at each middle school, two at each of our high schools and maybe a rover and two sergeants," Weir said.
“We will provide some specific training to them that we think will be beneficial, but it’s tough. We’ve got to hire 40 new people," Math said. “We’re looking for people that care about kids. People that are willing to break the 'school-to-prison pipeline, so to speak, and people that can nurture and coach kids to be good.”