When three possible abduction attempts were reported in May near Keller district campuses, mobile security officers helped police patrol walking routes before and after the school day.
For their regular duties, the two mobile security officers would go daily to elementary and intermediate schools, help conduct safety drills and fill in at secondary campuses when the assigned security officers were out. Adding the new staff last year improved the district’s responsiveness to security issues, said Kevin Kinley, director of safety and security.
“Having mobile officers to patrol around elementary schools, that was big,” Kinley said. “We never had that before. It’s been really, really good for us.”
Adding a third mobile security officer is part of a $3.9 million package of new expenditures trustees recently approved for the 2014-15 budget. The cost to add one officer is $39,000.
While some of the budget additions—like the mobile officers—are newer concepts, others are restorations of items that were cut in 2011 when the state reduced public education funding by more than $4 billion.
Mark Youngs, chief financial officer, said that administrators took a deliberate approach to the budget. “We said, ‘Let’s not just think mindlessly back to restoring what we had cut. Let’s think strategically about where we want the district to be in three years.’”
The deliberations resulted in a mix of new and restored positions and services.
Drug dog inspections will return to Keller schools next year at a cost of $60,000. Kinley said that in addition to drug detection, Black Creek K9 Services will help provide classroom education to encourage students to avoid substance abuse.
Recent tight budgets have also kept district officials from making routine upgrades for technology. Teachers received new laptops this past year. Next year, administrators plan to spend $850,000 to replace 7,000 devices for classroom use. Those computers, netbooks and MP3 players are seven years old, Youngs said.
The payment is the first of three annual expenditures in a lease agreement. At the end of that period, those devices can be upgraded to newer technology. Routine replacement is key because of the speed of technological advancements. Youngs said that no one anticipated the capabilities of smartphones seven years ago.
“We’re trying to position the district to take advantage of new technologies,” he said.
Other budget additions have to do with changing regulations and district growth. A counseling specialist will handle the paperwork required to track students in the new endorsements under House Bill 5. A records management specialist will oversee the transition of student records from papers kept in filing cabinets to electronic files on servers. Adding a new position in human resources, accounts payable and the tracking of district credit cards will address both previous budget cuts and growth.
“We’re trying to think forward, not backward,” Youngs said.