The city’s school district does not have the funds to support mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ proposal for a shared services agreement to deploy 30 school resource officers at city schools, said district officials on Wednesday night.
Torres’ proposal required the district and the city to share the cost of deploying the 30 police officers. He estimated the cost for the 30 police officers would be $1.7 million of which $1.4 million would be covered by the district.
The city would pay $300,000 for the two summer months. Torres said this would increase “boots on the ground.” He said the officers would be stationed at the public schools for a few years before a new group would replace them to keep the cost for the SRO program down.
“We don’t have the money,” said state-appointed school superintendent Donnie Evans on Wednesday night.
Evans said he favored SROs over traditional police officers at schools. The mayor presented his plan to the city council on Tuesday night. Some of the school board members who were present at the meeting were surprised by the mayor’s proposal.
Errol Kerr and Jonathan Hodges, both of whom were at the city council meeting, said the school board had not discussed the proposal. The mayor worked with the superintendent and the school board president, he said.
Torres said the board was expected to receive the proposal later in the month. Board member Lilisa Mimms said the operations committee was expected to receive a briefing prior to the city council meeting, but that committee meeting was rescheduled.
Mimms said there was a memo that was sent by the schools administration to board members on October 18th, 2016 which included information about the proposal. Some school board members said the district has been cutting costs and lacks the fund to equip each of its school with a nurse and librarian.
The mayor’s plan comes in a year when the district reduced its security staff by 89, said district officials.
Council members appeared to support the proposal. “This is so badly needed,” said Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman. She said having the same police officers at the schools will allow children to establish a relationship with the officers.