Budget Cuts Chop Middle School Cops

A $14 million budget shortfall could force police officers out of Plano middle schools and back on patrol.

The city, which faces a nearly $14 million budget shortfall for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, has asked all departments to review where they could reduce spending.

"One of the reductions is to reduce the officers that we have in our five middle schools -- five police officers and one sergeant," said Bruce Glasscock, deputy city manager. "That will give us a savings of over a half million dollars."

But parent Claire Angles said she wasn't happy to hear that an office won't be monitoring her son's middle school.

"You can't put a price on kids' safety," she said.

Police officers have long been liaisons in Plano schools, hoping to help prevent crime and build relationships with kids.

The city pays 85 percent of the officers' salaries, and the Plano Independent School District pays 15 percent.

While struggling with its budget problems, the city asked the Plano ISD to split the cost of the officers' salaries 50/50.

"During the discussion, they had the option to add additional funding. They chose not to," Glasscock said.

The school district is also facing a budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.

Parents say having an officer on campus makes them feel that things are under control. Having an officer around children helps them build a positive relationship with police early on, parents say.

"It helps them to understand that they are not here to hurt them," Angles said. "They are here to help them, and then they are not afraid to approach police officers when they need help."

The measure has not yet been approved by the Plano City Council, but it is expected to pass in a vote during the council's first meeting in September.

Officers will remain at Plano's senior and high schools.

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