The Hays County Commissioners Court approved an interlocal cooperation agreement with Hays CISD to add three school resource officers, or SROs, to the existing pool of officers Aug. 16 following discussions over the past few weeks. The officers are pulled from the Hays County Sheriff's Office, of which there are 12 at campuses across HCISD.

The objective of the agreement is to provide safety for students and staff, reduce delinquent behavior, prevent and reduce violent incidents, open a line of communication between students and law enforcement, and more, according to the agreement.

The cost for the additional SROs will be split evenly between the county and the school district over the course of two school years.

The county and district will each pay $155,977 for a total of $311,954 over time for the three additional SRO positions.

The agreement will be effective immediately and will last through July 2023, at which point the agreement will automatically renew for another year.

At a previous Commissioners Court meeting, County Judge Ruben Becerra noted the request and subsequent agreement with HCISD did not apply to San Marcos CISD because it has its own agreement with the San Marcos Police Department.

The San Marcos City Council approved the terms of an interlocal agreement with SMCISD for SMPD officers to serve as SROs at a meeting Aug. 16. SROs are and have been present on campuses across SMCISD; this item was merely to "set forth the expectations of both the school district and the city" regarding the SRO program and the annual renewal of the agreement already in place, according to the agreement.

Council Member Maxfield Baker raised concerns over the agreement and said he did not think the agreement addressed if there is adequate proof that the agreement is working.

Council Member Alyssa Garza added to Baker's sentiments, hoping to incorporate feedback and opinions from teachers, staff and caregivers regarding the SRO program.

"A lot of schools across the country have gotten rid of their SRO programs altogether. Or, minimally, they're engaging in intentional outreach to make sure caregivers and teachers and staff opinions are included in the conversations about reimagining what school safety can look like," Garza said.

She added that some parents she spoke to said they did not feel like they have enough information to decide how police officers fit into creating a safe learning environment for their children.

"There's a fundamental lack of understanding regarding what exactly the roles of SROs are, in particular when it comes to acts of violence and school shootings," Garza said.

SMPD Chief Stan Standridge said the purpose of police officers during a school shooting is to stop the killing and stop the dying; the methodology used for that is to isolate, distract and neutralize the threat either through arrest or by use of force.

"There's not really a fair comparison between what we have here and what Uvalde experienced. I hope there's some reassurance there," Standridge said.

Other duties of SROs include but are not limited to responding to safety threats, enforcing and complying with laws and ordinances, investigating criminal activity committed on or adjacent to school property, taking action against unauthorized individuals on SMCISD property and more, according to the agreement.

Standridge also said there will be surveys conducted during the 2022-23 school year for feedback regarding the SRO program.