Savannah Elementary School
DENTON COUNTY — Since the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, schools across the nation have been ramping up their security, including schools in North Texas.
People in the Savannah subdivision northwest of Frisco are digging deeper in their pockets to make sure kids are safe at Savannah Elementary School.
They're paying an extra $2.50 in their water bills each month. That money puts one police officer at the Denton ISD school, paying for a full-time salary.
The Newtown, Connecticut shootings made parents across the country ask a terrifying question regarding their own schools: Could it happen here?
In Savannah, they decided to take the matter into their own hands.
Little Elm police Officer Stoney Ward's job is to make everyone at Savannah Elementary feel safe.
Ward plays with the kids to build rapport. He does security checks in the hall and around the school. His salary is paid by the surcharge on water bills.
"Our residents really did it," said Rob Adams, a Savannah Elementary parent. "They're the ones who stepped up and said, 'Yes, we want this. We want our children protected.'"
Adams, who has two kids at the school, is a member of the water board that decided to float the idea of a small surcharge on water bills for school security. They sent a letter out asking if homeowners would support it.
Three out of four customers said "yes."
"What you paid for coffee or something, you can have an officer protecting the kids at school," Adams said.
Three off-duty Little Elm police officers and one Texas Parks and Wildlife officer take turns coming to the school each weekday. The money raised from the surcharge pays the shared $42,000 salary.
"Some of the residents have children in our school, some of those residents don't," said Michael McWilliams, the school’s principal. "But they all saw the need, because they all realized there are stakeholders in our school."
With North Texas schools having a difficult time meeting budget needs, hiring extra security may not be financially possible. In this case, the taxpayers foot the bill, and they're hoping others will do the same.