A Zachary police officer will be stationed at Rollins Place Elementary School beginning next school year under a contract approved Tuesday by the Zachary Community School Board.
The board also advanced measures to replace the lights and purchase a video board at Zachary High School’s Bronco Stadium, a move that comes as other upgrades to the facility are underway.
On the school resource officer item, the board agreed to renew its yearly contract with the Zachary Police Department, which provides police officers to patrol the city’s schools, with the school district footing the bill.
Three of the officers are resource officers who exclusively patrol Copper Mill Elementary School, Northwestern Middle School and Zachary High School. The other four positions are at the remaining schools in the district and are staffed by off-duty officers who take turns working details.
The details were a new addition this school year, marking the first time there has been a police officer in every Zachary school on a daily basis.
Adding a fourth resource officer — a designation that requires extra training — is part of ongoing efforts to improve school security. Rollins Place Elementary was chosen as the base for the new position because it’s close to the Zachary Early Learning Center, meaning the resource officer will be available to help there if a need arises.
“What we wanted to do is put another face in our schools that’s there every day,” said Superintendent Scott Devillier. “We feel like it was more of a benefit, and the cost wasn’t that much.”
“We think it’s a win-win situation,” Police Chief David McDavid told the board. “Zachary’s growing, and with as many houses as we have coming in, we think it’s vital that we have a fourth person.”
The contract is for nearly $298,000. It also includes $27,000 to pay six crossing guards.
The contract calls for three detail officer positions instead of four like this year. Two of those positions will involve patrolling Zachary Elementary School and Northwestern Elementary School; the third detail officer will assist the resource officer at Zachary High.
On the Bronco Stadium matters, the board agreed to let the district advertise for bids for new, more efficient lights and a board to display video replays and highlights. Those improvements would come in addition to ongoing renovations of the stadium press box.
The existing lights were installed in 1983.
“They’re costing us anywhere from approximately $12,000 to $15,000 a year just on maintenance to change the bulbs that are burned,” Devillier said. “That’s not counting the electricity they’re burning. They’re not energy efficient at all.”
The video board — a growing trend at high school stadiums in Texas and Louisiana, Devillier said — would have advertising space for six local businesses that have already committed to be sponsors for a five-year period.
“Their sponsorship will pay the entire cost of the board,” Devillier said.
Board member Heidi Vessel, an attorney, abstained from the vote because she's one of the prospective sponsors.
Students will shoot all the video for the board, offering a unique learning opportunity, Devillier said. He envisions other potential uses, such as using it to screen movies during events for families.
Also at the meeting, the board approved a $4 million, five-year contract with First Student, which has provided bus transportation since the Zachary school system formed in 2003. Under the contract, 26 older buses will be replaced over the next five years.
First Student has other improvements planned, Devillier said, including an app that will let parents track buses and receive notifications.
First Student runs 68 bus routes daily in the Zachary district, business manager John Musso said.
Also Tuesday, the board recognized several recent retirees. They are Johnnie Singleton, of the Zachary Early Learning Center; Byrd Lee Carter, of Northwestern Elementary School; Donna Brown, of Rollins Place Elementary School; Dianne Cash, of Copper Mill Elementary School; and Tonya Jackson, Belinda Johnson, Lisa Moffat, Roberta Roan and Kevin Stansbury, all of Zachary High School.