STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
BURNET — The most recent school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, prompted Burnet and Bertram city and school officials to approve officers for the 2018-19 school year on all school campuses in Burnet Consolidated Independent School District.
On May 18, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis opened fire at Santa Fe High School, killing eight students and two teachers before surrendering to police.The incident comes on the heels of several other violent incidents at high schools across the nation the past several years.
“The school shootings are a factor, but, in return, it’s always been a goal to have an officer in every school,” Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson said. “With the recent school shootings, it sped up the process.”
As a result of the new agreement, the Burnet Police Department is scheduled to add two more full-time school resource officers for the 2018-19 school year.
“When they’re at the school, they’re doing programs, helping administrators with safety plans,” said Nelson, who added the department will hire two more patrol officers to replace those assigned to campuses. “So the SROs will be on each campus: R.J. Richey (Elementary School), Shady Grove Elementary, the high school, and middle school.”
The city of Bertram also agreed to contract with the school district for a full-time officer instead of part-time one, which would cost about $33,000, at the district’s third elementary campus, Bertram Elementary School, starting next school year.
Burnet CISD earmarked $308,192.64 for SROs in the 2018-19 fiscal year budget, officials reported.
“Who would have thought we had to go to this extreme to make our kids safe. It’s unfortunate,” Burnet CISD board president Andy Feild said. “It’s a sign of the times, and we need to do what’s necessary to protect the kids.”
Officials said the additional and full-time officers are a culmination of a series of steps taken to improve school safety.
“Last fall, we created perimeter fencing,” Feild said. “We also created single-entry points (on campuses).”
On June 4, the BCISD Board of Trustees will conduct a special meeting to finalize the security partnership with the cities and police departments.
“It’s definitely a great feeling to live in a community that has that kind of cooperation between the city council and the school district,” Feild said.