The town of Newtown's 2013-14 budget has drawn crowds of public commenters at meetings and sparked discussions on security, both armed and unarmed. Now, in accordance with town charter -- which stipulates a March 14 deadline -- the Board of Finance plans to vote on the budget Wednesday night, the day before the deadline.
Once the budget reaches the Legislative Council, officials won't be able to add to it, although they can remove money.
"I'm afraid we're powerless if they don't get it in before the budget comes to us," Legislative Council chair Jeff Capeci said at a meeting in late February, when the Finance Board received the budget.
The board has scheduled an exeutive session to discuss security prior to the possible vote.
Private schools seek equality
First Selectman Pat Llodra says Newtown's three private schools -- Fraser Woods Montessori School, St. Rose of Lima School and Housatonic Valley Waldorf School -- could find some inclusion in the budget. Last week, selectmen discussed providing $20,000 to each school through the town's operational budget, to spend as they see fit.
"Within the Board of Selectmen budget, we already have a section of the budget we use to provide donations to those agencies," she said. She said the number wasn't intentionally chosen to reflect a security guard salary, but said she recognized the amount was similar.
"It seemed to me an appropriate number, sufficiently enough to help the non-private schools do something substantial," she said. "If they chose to spend that on a security guard, it would be up to them. It's sufficient, but not so much I was concerned we were moving into an area when we asked the taxpayer to provide too much."
Two of Newtown's three private schools have expressed interest in having a level of armed security similar to that of public schools.
"To have the same level of security is important to us," said Fraser Woods Montessori School head Miriam Woods, speaking before the board at a Wednesday night meeting. "We are in Newtown just like you, and the same insecurity you felt is on our end."
She added she was only pursuing police for security, not the School Resource Officer position that involves incorporation into the curriculum.
Some parents who spoke before the board agreed with Woods.
"Private schools in our town are not isolated communities," said resident Barbara Hastings. "They're integral parts of our community. These schools stepped up to the plate to host events and initiatives that were needed by our community. All the children in these schools were affected in many of same ways."
According to town officials, representatives of the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School have indicated they are not interested in having police presence at the school.
Update: Board of Finance officials say an additional meeting has been added for Wednesday night to discuss the budget, with the Board of Education budget on Monday's agenda.