The Jim Wells County Sheriff and the Alice Independent School District Superintendent recently signed and agreed to a contract that would utilize the sheriff's K9 program.

Back in August, the Alice Independent School Board received a presentation by the sheriff's department on their K9 program and how it would save the district money.

With the contract between the two entities the school district will save $26,000 a year for several years.

“We are doing this agreement to keep the children of this community safe,” said JWC Sheriff Oscar Lopez. “A way to keep the students and the staff safe.”

The school will have the department K9s search for narcotics and weapons at no cost. Currently, the school district is operating in a deficit of several million dollars and is looking for ways to save.

Previously, the district was spending $35,000 a year to an outside company, according to Alice Superintendent Dr. Grace Everett.

The other company's contract was set to expire when the sheriff presented their services.

“We are still using the outside company because there are some things the sheriff's dogs are not trained to detect,” Everett said. “However, we won't be paying (the outside company) 35 grand. Now, we will pay them $9,000 a year.”

The K9s will be used throughout the district as many times as the district and the sheriff's feel a search is necessary.

“The sheriff will decide when he wants to search the campuses,” Everett said.

“Before searching or arriving at any campus the sheriff's department will notify administration,” Lopez stated. “We aren't doing this to get children into trouble. Parents should understand we need to keep our students safe and this is one way.”

When and if a student is caught with illegal items the proper procedures will take place between the district and law enforcement whether city or county.