AUSTIN, Texas - A local lawmaker and parents raised concerns about a school district’s spending. Eanes ISD proposed purchasing a fleet of Teslas as police vehicles.
"Where are our priorities?" Eanes ISD parent Jennifer Stevens said. "Clearly our priorities are not our kids and not our teachers."
The agenda said the school district received two proposals for police vehicles, and Teslas were considered the best value considering cost, availability and reliability. The proposal was for nine vehicles, costing at least $375,000. The agenda said, "the vehicle will require very little maintenance and no fuel and will serve its intended purpose for each campus officer."
"Our district is currently $2 million in the red. We have a huge budget deficit," Stevens said. "We do not have any electric vehicle chargers on any of our campuses, so now we're going to buy a bunch of electric vehicles that we do not have the capacity to charge for people who are not supposed to be leaving campus."
The school board approved forming its own district police department in June and authorized armed peace officers at each of the district’s nine campuses to align with a new law requiring so.
"Eanes ISD followed a legal procurement process of police vehicles and is recommending to the Board of Trustees the best value in the bid process. We are applying to commission our police force through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, which includes the purchase of equipment and police vehicles," the district said.
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TCOLE said patrol vehicles are part of the consideration for the establishment of a new law enforcement agency, but there is no rule about how many. "One vehicle per officer may not be practical or necessary for all agencies."
"It concerns me that if they were moving forward with, again, hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, not clearly understanding the requirement to begin with, it makes me wonder what other things they might be misinterpreting," Texas House Representative Ellen Troxclair said.
Troxclair said Teslas for school officers is a misuse of money.
"As a state lawmaker who is charged with making sure that we are providing adequate funding to educate our kids, and we often hear pushback from these school districts that they need more and more and more money, and so it's very difficult to take those comments seriously when you see money being used in a potentially wasteful manner," Troxclair said.
The school board tabled the item on the agenda Tuesday night. The board said they’ll have a meeting with TCOLE next week to go over the requirements.