During a special meeting of the Eanes ISD board of trustees Oct. 3, the board approved a proposal from automotive company Tesla to provide vehicles to the district’s forming police department.

The gist

After Superintendent Jeff Arnett negotiates a final contract with Tesla, the district will receive nine electric vehicles, Tesla Model Y’s, for a total of $444,420, but with a likely rebate, the total would equate to $376,920, according to EISD officials. This will equip all of the officers in the department with a vehicle.

“It’s a conversation about all or none because we wouldn’t want one of our officers to not have access to a vehicle when other officers have that capability,” Arnett said Oct. 3.

The district estimates the one-time cost of installing charging stations will be $3,000. The average cost to charge these vehicles is up to $640 a year, which is about an average of $1,360 less a year than it costs to fuel a gas vehicle such as a Chevrolet Tahoe or a Ford Expedition, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s vehicle cost calculator.

“We're not the first police department in the country to look at electric cars,” board President James Spradley said Oct. 3. “I wish we were that cutting edge, but this is becoming more and more standard.”

The use of police vehicles will include:
  • Responding to emergencies
  • Controlling traffic
  • Transporting individuals
  • Pursuing individuals
  • Deterring criminal activity
“If we have an instance on our campus where we need our police department to come, I would hate for it to be an issue for them not to be able to get there,” board Secretary Heather Sheffield said Oct. 3. “I want to make sure that we’re protecting our students every way we possibly can.”

In case you missed it

The initial decision to enter into the contract with the automotive manufacturer was delayed from Sept. 19 after school board members decided to evaluate the proposal with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

Community members and elected officials expressed concerns about the item when it was up for vote at the Sept. 19 board meeting, including a post on X, formerly Twitter, from Rep. Ellen Troxclair, which stated, “Raise your hand if you’re tired of being gaslit by some districts claiming they don’t have enough money while they spend wildly on luxury cars.”

The decision to purchase Teslas was determined by the district based on “affordability, availability and sustainability,” Arnett said.

“I personally would encourage those politicians and spin doctors out there to spend a little bit more time focusing on getting us the funds that we need to keep our schools and our students safe rather than publicity efforts,” board member Jennifer Champagne said Oct. 3.

The background

The district is purchasing the electric vehicles for its new police department approved by the board in June to align with House Bill 3 from the the 88th Texas Legislature requiring armed security officers on all campuses. The district plans to have a fully formed police force by 2024.

Responsibilities of the department will include:
  • Emergency response to incidents on campus
  • Enforcement of district policies
  • Safety education and training
  • Collaboration with school officials and local law enforcement agencies
What’s next?

Within 60 days of EISD purchasing the vehicles, the district will be in possession of the vehicles.

For more information, visit www.eanesisd.net.