Last school year, the City committed to working with school and law enforcement professionals to form a School Safety Task Force to find new ways to strengthen and enhance school safety in Southlake schools. With several months and multiple recommendations under its belt, the start of a new school year also means schools in Southlake will be starting with additional safety resources.
Each school is assigned a Southlake Police Officer as a School Resource Officer (SRO), this year two additional SROs will be assigned to the high schools.
“With the creation of the School Safety Task Force we made a promise to do more to protect our children. We started to deliver on that last year, and will continue to do so this year,” said Southlake Police Chief James Brandon. “We’ve made some visible changes, and we’ve made some people won’t see, by design. Recent events have created more questions about school safety; the Southlake Police Department SROs are doing everything they can to achieve the highest standards in safety and security in every Carroll ISD school. Parents can rest assured knowing we’re here to do our best to keep their children safe.”
In addition to providing a Southlake Police Officer to each school, each SRO is a trained classroom instructor on topics such as stranger danger, dating safety, internet safety, drug, alcohol and tobacco awareness.
“All of our SROs believe that the safety of the students is paramount when responding to any situation,” notes Chief Brandon. “Working alongside parents is a key factor in that and is a top priority for SROs to help keep students safe.”
Southlake SROs make investments every day to further their mission to keep students safe and focused on learning. The success of the program can be seen in the day-to-day interactions with CISD students.
“All of these efforts resulted in zero student citations,” said Chief Brandon. “I look forward to continuing to see these types of outcomes in Southlake schools in the year to come. Our goal is to make sure students learn and have fun without worrying too much about their safety.”
The Southlake SRO program has been in place since 2005. By the start of the 2013-2014 school year, specially-trained officers were in place at each CISD elementary school and intermediate school in addition to the officers at the middle schools and high schools.
Much of the $1,600,000 funding for these officers is from the Crime Control and Prevention District portion of the City’s sales tax. In 2015, voters re-authorized the district for 20 years helping to ensure the future of SRO program and other safety initiatives.
You can learn more about Southlake School Safety on the City of Southlake website.
As you know, the school year is over and summer has begun. Let’s take a moment to recognize our wonderful School Resource Officers for providing your children with a safe and enriched school year.
The SROs work in partnership with Carroll Independent School District (CISD) to teach students valuable lessons on various topics that they can carry through life.
Here are some highlighted lessons from the 2016-2017 school year:
These are just a few of the many kinds of educational classes provided by the SROs. They also serve as positive role models through coaching and mentoring to help students make good choices and to learn about the consequences of negative behavior.
On May 6, Southlake voters will be able to vote on two ballot measures affecting Carroll Independent School District.
Although the city and school have separate ballots, voters who reside in both will help decide the future of the 2017 School Bond Proposition and the 1/8 sales tax that funds crime control and prevention programs, which includes funding for the School Resource Officer (SRO) program.
Information on the school bond election can be found at CarrollBudget.com. Only CISD residents may vote in the school bond election. Because the boundaries of the city do not completely align with the boundaries for the school district, there are CISD residents who live in west Grapevine, Westlake, Colleyville and Keller who can vote in the school bond election, but not in the City of Southlake crime tax election. If you are uncertain which city or school district election in which you are eligible to vote, contact the Tarrant County Elections office.
The Southlake Crime Control and Prevention District has been in place since 1997. During the past 20 years, the sales tax has funded the construction of the City’s three public safety facilities and the purchase of necessary equipment such as radio upgrades, body and dash cameras, SWAT equipment, security cameras, rifles, technology upgrades and Town Square security. Since 2013, the crime tax funds have paid for uniformed, trained officers at every Carroll ISD campus. These School Resource Officers are not CISD employees, but rather work for the City of Southlake.
The city ballot asks voters whether they support or oppose continuation of the 1/8 sales tax that is already in place. It does not create a new sales tax. All voters are required to present an approved form of identification in order to vote in any Texas election. Election Day takes place Saturday, May 6. Southlake voters must go to their county precinct polling location on election day. For many City of Southlake residents who also reside in Carroll ISD, that site is the Carroll Senior High School art building.
Early voting, however, is April 24 through May 2 at any Tarrant County early voting site, which includes the third floor of Southlake Town Hall in Southlake Town Square.
As a side note, CISD Trustees all ran unopposed, as did the city candidates, so the elections for School Board Trustee and City Council have been canceled.
Three months after the horrific school shooting in Newtown Connecticut, a task force focused on school security and student well-being has recommended placing School Resource Police Officers (SROs) at every Southlake public school. The goal is to have the officers in place by the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.
On March 19th, task force member and Southlake Police Chief Steve Mylett made the recommendation to the City Council explaining the plan’s history and importance.
“The goals of the SRO program include enhancing security on all Southlake public school campuses, reducing community fear regarding child safety, and reducing the likelihood of drug and alcohol use,” said Chief Mylett.
He also explained that under the current program, a full time School Resource Officer is stationed at Carroll Senior High School, with another one assigned at Carroll High School. A third officer splits time between the City’s two middle schools: Dawson and Carroll. The Task Force recommendation expands the program from three employees to 13 employees to cover an additional eight schools including Florence Elementary which is part of Keller Independent School District.
At the March 19th meeting, Mayor John Terrell told the audience that he sees the expanded program as a long-term investment. He stated later: “As with any long-term commitment, this program will evolve and we will modify it as we believe is necessary so that it will continually improve. What’s important is that this investment is constantly nurtured by its stakeholders so it becomes and remains a program of excellence which benefits Southlake’s families and the community.”
All of the money for the expanded program will come from the Crime Control Prevention District, the half-cent sales tax that was approved by voters to support the City’s safety and security initiatives. The board, which has fiduciary responsibility over the fund, approved the task force’s recommendation at their meeting on March 5th. The City will move forward this summer with making the necessary budget adjustments.
The Task Force was assembled shortly after the shootings in Newtown Connecticut where 26 people lost their lives after a shooter entered the Sandy Hook Elementary school and opened fire. The group researched and held meetings to determine the appropriate recommendation for an enhanced SRO presence for Southlake schools. It is composed of law enforcement experts, community leaders from both the City and Carroll ISD, and faith based leaders.
“We appreciate the cooperative partnership between the City of Southlake and Carroll ISD, especially on the topic of school safety,” said Read Ballew, School Board President and a member of the Mayor’s Task Force. “The group was quick but thorough in making a recommendation. Safety is a top priority for all of us, but the city’s expansion of the SRO program allows Carroll ISD to concentrate on our main focus of educating students.’
Superintendent David Faltys said the existing SRO program provides students, staff and parents with the opportunity to build strong relationships with local law enforcement officers. “The city’s efforts to help keep our schools safer also provide us with a great opportunity to utilize the expertise of these officers to positively impact the lives of students. We look forward to working with Chief Steve Mylett to find just the right individuals to fill these positions.”
City staff will now move forward with the necessary steps to seek out and hire qualified officers to staff the enhanced program. All SRO officers are required to go through 40 hours of specialized training that will focus on the specific safety and security needs of public schools and the children who attend them.