Pflugerville ISD is exploring a variety of methods to satisfy new public safety requirements mandated under a new state law.

What's happening

The district is working to identify the best way to comply with House Bill 3, which went into effect Sept. 1. PfISD police Chief Patrick Petherbridge said Sept. 7 that the district has a few options, ranging from simply expanding the police department so an armed officer is on each campus to contracting with third-party services or individuals with the appropriate certifications necessary to carry a firearm on campus. On Sept. 7, trustees approved the submission of a good cause exemption, which allows the district to seek an alternative standard for staffing its campuses with additional safety personnel.

What they're saying

Simply partnering with local law enforcement agencies would not suffice, Petherbridge said, as police departments across the state are experiencing staffing issues. He also said outside entities are actively recruiting PfISD police officers away from the district.

“We have a few pending vacancies as other districts are actively recruiting our officers,” he said. “I want to say quickly, that says something about the quality of the officers that we currently have.”

Cost to the district

The total costs associated with hiring new officers to occupy every campus in the district, Petherbridge said, would be around $2.6 million for the first year, accounting for one-time purchases—such as vehicles, individual equipment and psychological evaluations—in addition to ongoing salary costs from adding 24 new full-time employees.

While the state has allocated some funding to offset the burden of costs associated with having an armed security guard on each campus, officials said this is not enough to cover the program.

The options

Other options being considered by the district to satisfy requirements of HB 3 include:
  • Hiring five additional officers to patrol elementary schools and implement a school guardian program on other campuses until funding for full compliance is available: This option would cost $540,000 annually for five officers as well as $525 for psychological evaluations and training supplies. Additional costs are associated for substitute fees and stipends.
  • Create a Grow-Your-Own program offering paid cadet training to district staff interested in a law enforcement career while they complete the six-month program: Officials noted there are multiple regional police academies offering spots for potential cadets at no cost. It would require a $45,000 salary per cadet.