More police in schools, a taste of construction-to-be and a shift surrounding gas well setbacks came out of Monday’s joint meeting between Denton ISD and the city of Denton at the school district’s Central Services Building.
City Council members will consider a proposal from the school board and Denton Police Chief Frank Dixon that calls for three additional school resource officers.
Denton, Guyer and Ryan high schools would each get an extra officer, bringing each campus’s total to two full-time officers. Officers remain employed by the police department, but the school district pays at least a portion of their salary and benefits.
As of Monday, Denton ISD has one Denton police officer acting as an SRO at three of its high schools and three middle schools within Denton city limits: Denton, Guyer and Ryan high schools; and Calhoun, McMath and Strickland middle schools.
The district contracts with other police departments for schools outside Denton proper.
In the arrangement pitched Monday, Denton ISD would pay 100% of the costs for the three officers’ salaries and expected benefits. That’s a departure from the current standard — which was approved Sept. 24 — in which Denton ISD pays half of the expected salary and benefits.
The school district would continue to cover 50% of costs for the other six officers.
The School Resource Officer Program began in 1997. In 2011, Denton ISD began to reimburse the city 50% of the costs for SROs at the high schools. In April 2018, the district began reimbursing the city for officers at middle schools.
The agreement brought forth Monday would leave Denton ISD paying the city $402,092 from January 2020 until the end of the school year.
Including the payments from the first half of the school year, the district will have reimbursed the city more than $610,000. If the rate continues for the 2020-21 school year, the district’s expense for the nine officers would top out at more than $800,000.
By Monday evening, no one from Denton ISD had responded to a request for comment sent after the joint meeting ended Monday afternoon.
Both entities presented an overview of their upcoming construction projects during Monday’s meeting. In addition to the multitude of campus construction projects the school district has going on, including renovations to Guyer and Ryan high schools, city officials explained the various road projects they hope to have done in the next few years.
Among the most pressing road projects concerning Denton ISD are North Bonnie Brae Street, which will lead up to the new Denton High School campus; the eastern section of McKinney Street leading to Ryan High; and the bit of Teasley Lane leading to Guyer.
The expansion of Teasley, which will cost an estimated $38 million, is scheduled to conclude in November 2021. Construction on the final section of East McKinney, with its $18 million price tag, is set to finish up in December 2021. Finally, construction on Bonnie Brae is set to be complete sometime in 2021, leaving a small buffer before the new Denton High is set to open for the 2022-23 school year.
Also of note, the city plans to add sidewalks to roadsides within a quarter-mile of a school within city limits. That’ll add up to 28.4 miles of sidewalk. The project would cost an estimated $18.7 million, roughly $12 million of which would likely fall to the city to pay.
The Denton City Council reconvened back at City Hall, minus council member Keely Briggs, after Mayor Chris Watts asked to reconsider the vote that increased the distance from old gas wells and new homes from 250 feet to 500 feet.
The move delayed the implementation of the ordinance, which was set to go into effect this Friday, and pushed any new vote on the measure to after the first of the year.