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To the Editor:

After 12/14, Newtown was the closest, most kind, loving and generous community.  That has helped my family and other families to begin the healing process, but now we are in the dreaded and divisive budget season. 

Security is a topic that I have thought about endlessly.  On 12/13, I would not have thought security was necessary. While the chance of the tragedy happening at all in Sandy Hook was minute, it happened.  And while the chance of it happening again is also minute, we can’t say it won’t happen. As a mom waiting to see my son come out of the school on 12/14, I did not think that there was an active shooter in the school.  I assumed that there was some sort of domestic dispute, and we can’t say that won’t happen. 

There have been people asking why we need police officers and security guards in the schools.  The reason is that the police officers are considered security resource officers.  They are specially trained to work with and teach children.  Since they are police officers, if there is an emergency, they can be called away.  If that were to happen, the school still has a security guard to protect the students and staff. The security guards will be retired police officers –highly qualified and trained to protect. 

I have attended all the budget discussions at the BOE meetings this year.  Many of the requests in the BOE budget were also made last year.  I listened to the technology and maintenance needs.  I support replacing the obsolete equipment in the schools and preparing for the state-mandated testing that will start next year that must be taken on computers. I support completing the maintenance projects that have been put off for several years.   I also support full-day kindergarten. 

Enrollment has been a big topic of debate.  Yes, enrollment is currently down.  But it is not down significantly in any school or in any grade.  Regardless, we still have a current population of students enrolled in our schools that need and deserve a quality education. 

Now that the budget failed and significant cuts have been made to the BOE budget, some critical conversations need to happen. Do we meet requirements for state-mandated testing?  Do we continue to provide a quality education?  Do we make sure that our schools are safe and secure? Do we make changes to help increase home sales, such as full-day kindergarten?  How do we choose?  If the grants that have been applied for don’t come through and the budget continues to be cut – how are we going to educate and protect our children?  

Voter turn-out for a Presidential election in this town is outstanding and that is a time when our votes matter very little.  But when it comes to how to spend money in our town and in our schools – where are the voters then?

I hope this letter encourages people to get informed and involved.  Please vote on May 14th and encourage your family, friends and spouses to vote too!

Karyn Holden

Berkshire Road, Sandy Hook                      May 8, 2013

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