Safety and security remains an essential priority for Round Rock ISD, its board of trustees said as members discussed the future of the district's school resource officers' contract at an Oct. 3 safety and security workshop.
The RRISD's board of trustees spoke for nearly three hours on how the district plans on proceeding forward with its SROs coverage after Williamson County announced Sept. 9 it would pull out of its interlocal agreement with RRISD following the 2020-21 academic year. Several board members pointed out a significant number of residents support the interlocal agreement with the county over other potential safety and security proposals, including one that would call for the district to form its own police department.
Board Member Amber Feller proposed drafting a revised memorandum of understanding to present to Williamson County for potential revisiting and consideration, following Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell's denouncement of an extended interlocal agreement at the board's Sept. 9 meeting. This revisited proposal, Feller said, should include "essential components" for the district, such as an absence clause that would require Williamson County officers to report when a campus does not have coverage for a day, a revenue-neutral contract and include language for pay raises to avoid the need for negotiated pay raises each year.
“All we care about is the safety of our kids," Feller said. "And just getting a clear message from the entities we want to work with has been really frustrating.”
Feller said as the board is drafting up a revised MOU proposal for Williamson County to consider, it should also weigh the costs and options related to the district developing its own police department or other alternatives should Williamson County Commissioners Court vote down the board's proposal.
Board Vice President Nikki Gonzales said she was not in favor of trying to revise a proposal with the county, adding neither the board nor the district can force the county to abide by its requests.
"I’m tired of playing politics for the safety of our kids," Gonzales said, adding that the county has already made it clear it is not interesting in extending its interlocal agreement with RRISD beyond spring 2021.
Board Member Cory Vessa said that though the county has expressed its disinterest in extending the interlocal agreement, it has an obligation to its constituents living in Round Rock to take their considerations seriously.
"If the community has spoken, then they have to speak to their elected officials and tell them this is what they want," Vessa said.
Board President Chad Chadwell said residents' inclination toward maintaining an interlocal agreement with Williamson County Sheriff's Office is a compliment to its officers and the work they have achieved within the district.
“If we are forthcoming and we agree to work together .... if we believe in that good faith, then we can have great progress," Chadwell said.
Feller said she would have a draft of her revised proposal sent to board members a week prior to the board's Oct. 17 meeting, which would then be sent to the commissioner's court for consideration for its agenda.
“It’s important that we stand up for what we feel our children need and deserve," Feller said.