AUSTIN, Texas - The Eanes ISD school board voted in favor to purchase Teslas for the district police department. This was a controversial topic for some parents.
"We know that we are going to have a formal police department, and these will be official officers, and as a part of that equipment, we are proposing that they have equipment necessary to do their jobs and to respond," says Eanes ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeff Arnett.
The agenda item was tabled last month, and the school board says it met with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to confirm what is essential and equitable for the department.
"We went through the legal procurement process, and followed all the required steps. We looked at those bids that were submitted, and we evaluated them to determine the best qualifying offer," says Dr. Arnett.
The district's superintendent also took to the Eanes ISD police department website to explain why the purchase of nine Teslas is set to move forward.
He says more than 90 vendors were invited to bid in July and August and only two qualified vendors responded.
"And in evaluating those, Tesla was determined to be the best value for Eanes ISD taxpayers, and we can get those vehicles in 60 days," says Dr. Arnett.
Dr. Arnett says other vehicles would take at least a year to receive and were considerably more expensive.
"That's why we are recommending the Tesla as the best value and the most cost-effective option for Eanes ISD taxpayers, and our new police department," says Dr. Arnett.
According to the agenda, the vehicle will require very little maintenance and no fuel.
"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," says Jennifer Stevens, a parent.
Jennifer Stevens also says the district is low on funds.
"Our district is currently $2 million in the red. We have a huge budget deficit, and this would be another half million dollar outlay of expenditure just to purchase the vehicles up front," says Stevens.
"They do not come from the same budget that we use to compensate our staff or to pay teacher salaries, and these are not monies that come from the Eanes Education Foundation," says Dr. Arnett.
"I want to make sure that we are protecting our students everyway we possibly can. So, if that is an extra $41-42,000 to give them a vehicle that we have already budgeted for, that is not taking away from teacher pay. I think we need to do it," says Heather Sheffield, the Eanes ISD School Board Secretary.