MINERAL WELLS — School trustees on Monday approved agreements with the city of Mineral Wells for on-campus school resource officers for the new school year as well as for use of the city's gun range for school staff participating in the Guardian Program.
"They are stationed at our schools," Superintendent John Kuhn said of the two full-time and three part-time certified peace officers coming from the city force.
The district and police force have partnered in the SRO program since 1995. Under this year's agreement, the district will fund one of the full-timers and two part-time officers, at a cost of $141,070.
"They do a great job of building relationships with the students and with their families," Kuhn said.
Trustees approved another agreement with the city that will allow staff participating in the Guardian Program, which trains armed school staff members, to access the city's shooting range, at a cost of $500 to $1,000 depending on how often they take practice.
The board also OKed its annual agreement with Emergency Services District No. 1 for ambulance protection at games and heard a construction update on their new agriculture building. Maintenance Director Bobby Mori, architect Timothy Hopkins and the ag building's general contractor expressed hope the $15 million facility will be completed by the mid-year point of this school year.
Contractor Darrell Durant said building’s metal supplier, due to COVID delays, had asked to deliver 10 or 20 percent of its product at a time. He said he insisted it all come at once to avoid stops and starts. He added that utility crews had been poised to install fixtures but have temporarily been halted by the virus.
Kuhn expressed hope the new facility can be completed by the middle of the school year.
"I would love for that to be the Christmas present for this district, that ag barn," he said.
The district is paying for the facility with existing funds rather than borrowing. The payment in the coming year's budget is $1.1 million and should finish payments for the work.
The superintendent also reported students are returning to the classroom after last year's COVID hit on attendance.
"The good news is our enrollment is up," he said. "As of Aug. 31, we were at an enrollment of 3,245. And that is 103 more students than this time last year."
Pre-kindergarten attendance fell last year to 142, but Kuhn put it at 193 now.
"We're basically back to where we were before COVID," he said.
One as-yet unanswered question, he added, is the level of state funding the district can expect from Austin. The Texas Education Agency calculates that amount based on the previous year's average daily attendance, which was down statewide.
But Kuhn said discussions with other superintendents indicates Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath has that funding challenge "on his radar."
Finally Monday, trustees OKed pay $150 per game for medical protection by two emergency medical technicians and two ambulances at home football games. The agreement allows Emergency Services District No. 1 ambulance crews to answer calls to emergencies elsewhere, Kuhn said.