At $91K per year, one campus cop costs nearly as much as two fired schoolteachers, and if the Cy-Fair district has to pay the full freight, the expense would increase from $3.3 million to $4.125 million. Instead of spending that money on police, it'd probably be cheaper and more effective to hire one more assistant principal at each campus and just call 911 if there's ever an immediate threat. In Austin if they did that, odds are there'd be a cop parked right outside the door writing tickets for cell-phone use in a school zone, which is apparently a bigger priority than investigating burglaries or just about anything else. (Of course, eliminating campus cops risks having no one available to mace any threatening baby squirrels who wander onto campus, but I'm not sure that service is worth $91,000 per year to taxpayers.)Cy-Fair is facing the loss of a 38-deputy contract with Precinct 4 Constable Ron Hickman. Galena Park will lose its existing 11-deputy contract with Precinct 2 Constable Gary Freeman.
In both cases, the districts reimburse the county for 80 percent of the $91,000 cost of a deputy's salary, benefits and equipment. The full cost of the deputies come out of the constables' budgets, and the reimbursements from the school districts go into the county coffers.
Hickman's contract with Cy-Fair, for example, represented a nearly $3.3 million expense on his $29 million budget this year; the district's cost would have been about $2.7 million.
My hope is that the budget crunch prompts a complete rethinking of campus security and school discipline. With exceptionally good timing, Chairman John Whitmire and Sen. Juan Hinojosa have suggested eliminating or radically scaling back the amount of ticketing at schools, which raises the question, if they're not going to be writing tickets, perhaps school police aren't needed at all? The bill is pending in Whitmire's Senate Criminal Justice Committee after receiving a public hearing March 29 (see video of testimony here beginning at the 1:15:15 mark).
RELATED: Thanks to a commenter for pointing out that the McAllen Monitor ran a story about the bill to reduce school ticketing over the weekend.
See related Grits posts:
- Eliminate school police for budget savings?
- Reducing the role of ticketing in school discipline
- Whitmire: 'Ticketing Students at School Teaches the Wrong Lesson'
- Mounting school arrests, more school police criminalizing youth misbehavior
- TX Appleseed: Don't put misbehaving kids with criminal ones
- Replacing school discipline with criminal enforcement