If there is a shooting at Liberty Ranch High School, it could take 30 minutes or more for a squad car to arrive on scene.
The campus, located on the farthest eastern edge of Galt, is not within city limits, so the Galt Police Department will not routinely respond in case of an emergency unless requested.
Instead, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department would be called to the Marengo Road school - and its nearest station is located on Florin Road in South Sacramento. A secondary substation is in Wilton, but units do not remain there and instead patrol the area, according to Sgt. Tim Curran, Sheriff's spokesman.
Ambulance and fire service, however, are not concerns, since both are operated through the Cosumnes Community Services Department, a joint fire department with the city of Elk Grove.
Still, some are worried.
"We want to be sure how to serve the kids," said trustee Diann Kitamura, who is overseeing the Galt Joint Union High School District office until a new superintendent is selected. "If something happens, it takes a long time to get there. They are 30 to 45 minutes away."
Galt police underline that the new school is not in their jurisdiction. "We wouldn't initiate investigation or be able to respond in case of an emergency, unless the sheriff asked us to. We would not be doing primary law enforcement activities there. There are a lot of liabilities on our part. And the Sheriff hasn't said he can't handle it," Loren Cattolico, Galt's police chief, said. "You'll get police service, just not from downtown Galt."
Former school board member Gus Prouty, whose son will be attending Liberty Ranch in the fall, said because of the emergency response concern, annexation is an issue that needs to be resolved soon.
"Whatever needs to get done, needs to get done," he said. "We're not pouring a driveway here. It's a big deal. We need to talk to Galt P.D. about standing in until the Sheriff can arrive."
Lodi Unified School District's rural schools must rely on sheriff's service
For years, the Lodi Unified School District has been dealing with the same emergency response issue Galt's new high school is facing, since some of its campuses are not located within city limits.
LUSD has 11 rural schools outside of Stockton and Lodi city limits, and in the area served by the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department.
Despite the distance from immediate police protection - the main sheriff's office is in French Camp, more than 30 miles from the Lodi area and even further from Clements - Associate Superintendent Odie Douglas said he isn't aware of any public safety response issues that have arisen on those campuses.
Woodbridge and Davis elementary schools, as well as Morada Middle School, are patrolled by a Sheriff's community car stationed in the area at all times.
In the past, the district has started the annexation process concurrently with the property purchase if possible, according to Art Hand, assistant superintendent of facilities and planning.
"One of the big reasons you annex is you want to tap into the city utilities. There are also concerns with police and fire," he said. "But the Local Agency Formation Committee wants to look at a large piece of property to bring into a town, just small parcels. The city drives that train."
Most often when the district begins to plan construction of a new school, it is already within city limits, as in the case of an elementary campus planned at the end of West Vine Street in Lodi.
And Woodbridge Elementary operates under a utility agreement with the city of Lodi to provide water and sewer service to the campus located just outside city limits.
But Cattolico said that would only happen if he was asked by the Sheriff's office.
"You can't just go around stepping on someone else's jurisdiction," he said. "The school district is a two-county jurisdiction. The city is the city. We need to make sure we're providing services to those who live within our jurisdiction."
The Galt high school district is in the talking stages of annexing the school into the city. It is a process termed "costly" by school board members, who discussed the annexation issue at their meeting last week. But it appears few know exactly how much it would cost and what it would entail.
When he was previously on the board, trustee Dennis Richardson remembers being quoted by the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) a price between $20,000 and $30,000.
According to the fee schedule posted on the agency's Web site, the price tag would be a bit more than $31,000, depending on environmental reports that could be required by the agency. And, apparently, if the district works through the city, it would be more expensive, according to district officials.
Cost aside, timing is also an issue, Richardson said.
"Here we stand today, alone," Richardson said. "I don't necessarily agree with putting it on hold."
District employees are working in tandem with the city and LAFCO and plan to bring a report before the school board in the near future.
Board president Terry Parker-Owning, who was on the Liberty Ranch oversight committee at the time ground was broken, believes the annexation process was left out of the school's original plans so as not to complicate construction.
Because neighboring streets are within city limits, the police department is working with the city to create a traffic plan to prevent motorists from cutting through residential areas on their way to the new campus.
"My biggest concern is traffic," said Cattolico. "A lot's going to change in the next two weeks because you've got 600 kids who don't drive going there. They're not old enough to drive."