Newtown’s school and municipal officials have a new piece to fit into the town’s annual budget puzzle this year — a new priority, a new expense, a new conundrum. As the town transitions from the various ad hoc arrangements it established in the wake of 12/14 to better secure local schools, the Board of Education, at the urging of First Selectman Pat Llodra, has proposed a security budget totaling just under $3 million that is separate from the school board’s proposed $71.5 million operating budget for 2014-15.
The Newtown High School has installed new protocols regarding students and visitors entering the building. Although some of these new procedures might be unnecessarily over cautious (drop boxes in vestibule for items to be delivered to students and adults surrendering car keys to security), hopefully these new steps will deter someone with bad intentions from committing violence in the school.
As a Newtown taxpayer, who continues to see his taxes go up, I was dismayed when I learned that my child is not as important to the town as the kids going to the public school. It is my understanding that St Rose, and other private schools in Newtown, will not be given the same security measures due to it being a private school.
It is a paradox of human relations that the ones we hold closest to our hearts thrive when we loosen our grip. Given what we know about child development and education, it is easy for parents to see the sense of it. But Tuesday morning, as children headed out to the bus stops, this small “letting go” for the coming school year may have, for many, proved to be a most difficult moment of surrender. Newtown is no longer a town where people can find consolation by telling themselves that things always turn out for the best.
Concerned about the happenings at Booth Library since Director Shawn Fields took over on July 1st, I attended the library focus group session on August 24th. Unfortunately, I came away with additional concerns. I am deeply concerned about the work environment of the staff. I am perplexed and disappointed about losing Andrea Zimmermann from that staff. And I certainly don't think making big changes when brand-spanking new to a job shows much wisdom.
HARTFORD— The state’s Bond Commission announced on Friday, July 26, its approval of $100,000 in grants for upgrades to school security at The Children’s Adventure Center (CAC).
“This is a great day for more than the Children’s Adventure Center. This grant is also a strong statement about Connecticut’s and the Office of Early Childhood’s commitment to our state’s most valuable natural resource, our children,” said State Rep Mitch Bolinsky (R-106).
Following several motions and proposed amendments at a Board of Finance meeting Monday, March 11, officials unanimously recommended setting aside $420,000 in a contingency account to hire and train additional police officers and providing them with vehicles to guard public elementary schools.
The board also unanimously recommended funding a grant program for three local private schools to help pay for additional security measures.
Simpsonville, a South Carolina town, has added police to their schools at no added costs to taxpayers with satellite police offices and an officer at no added cost to taxpayers. Other towns appear to engaging in this as well with no added cost to taxpayers, and Newtown should look at this as well.
It would not be unusual for Board of Finance school budget deliberations to extend to three hours or more. But despite the intention to do so on March 6, finance officials never cracked open the school budget book.
Instead, they heard public comment and spent the rest of their special meeting originally scheduled to take up the district budget proposal, trying to get a better understanding about the scope and cost of future school security measures.