Gatesville ISD

 Although some Gatesville Independent School District Board of Trustees members questioned the cost and the format of GISD's interlocal agreement with the Gatesville Police Department for school resource officers (SROs), the board agreed to renew a five-year contract with the city.

The district had budgeted $255,000 for five SROs, but that cost has increased to $268,777 after the officers were given raises, and one was promoted to sergeant.

Yancey Sanderson, executive director of testing and federal programs for the district, said "the main duty (of the SROs) is to be visible" and provide security and deterrence.

Board Vice President Charles Alderson said he believed the district should consider offering those services on its own.

"My personal opinion - I'd like for the school district to have its own police department," he said.

Board member Jimmie Ferguson said his concern was that the district had budgeted $255,000 for the SROs, but that amount was increased.

"It seems like a whole lot of money - a quarter of a million - but it's not enough," Ferguson said.

GISD Superintendent Barrett Pollard said he appreciates the services the Gatesville Police Department provides through the SROs and that the district was getting strong benefits for the agreement.

"They have been extremely helpful in assisting us in high stress situations," Pollard said. "The impetus for this was the massive amount of school violence we've seen nationwide. These officers provide so much support for the district and help in difficult situations, such as when two divorced parents are arguing over a child.

"Things can escalate very quickly. I think (the SROs) have been a great addition and I believe the principals do, too."

Gatesville Police Chief Nathan Gohlke said SROs accompany district staff to visit homes whenever concerns arise, such as truancy issues.

"Since this has been in place, we haven't had as many calls (about problems at GISD schools)," he said. "When there are irate parents on a campus, the SROs have been able to help the district handle that. It is a cost for the district, but we see it as a win-win for both sides."

"I feel so much better having them here, and I appreciate all they do," said board Secretary Cheyenne Kizer.

"You solve so many issues," board member Mary Anne Leib said.

Board member Calvin Ford asked, "would it be easier to have our own (police force)?"

"There is a cost involved and it is more than what you're paying (GPD)," Gohlke said. "In addition to the officers you have the cars, the equipment, and the insurance. It's doable, but there's a cost."

Pollard said the district had explored the possibility of starting its own police force in the past but decided that partnering with GPD is a better option.

"If we ever have to cut back on expenses, it won't be with SROs, in my opinion," he said. "The way it's working now is good, and it's something our staff is also very comfortable with."