Newtown Finance Officials Vote Yes on Armed School Security

Newtown's Board of Finance votes to add $420,000 to the town's 2013-14 budget for school security and to open a path to grant money for private school security.


Officials at a Monday Board of Finance meeting voted to add $420,000 to the town's contingency fund -- an amount chosen to allow Newtown to staff armed police at all seven public schools, including elementary schools, if it chooses.

It's not final -- on Thursday, per charter, the budget will move to the Legislative Council, who have the power to cut the budget. But since that body can't add money, the Board of Finance decided to act now.

"Our primary goal is to get a number, and that number has to be more than enough for when the council gets the budget," said Finance Chair John Kortze. "It would allow for some version of an armed police officer in each of the schools -- and make sure we don't have the issue of time."

First Selectman Pat Llodra's initial proposal called for $400,000. The board decided to add extra to allow "the conversation to continue" once the budget reaches the Legislative Council.

"We can take it back, but if we don't add it now and more information comes out, that can't happen," said Kortze.

The addition would cover the hiring of 4.3 new officers -- the .3 serving to provide a full blanket of security at Reed Intermediate School, whose current School Resource Officer also serves as the town's Youth Officer. In addition, Llodra said when the Board of Selectmen made their request, they didn't know Monroe would apply for a grant to provide an officer at Sandy Hook Elementary School, based at Monroe's Chalk Hill School since the Dec. 14 shooting.

"The idea is to make the pot large enough so that if a decision is made later on and we need that additional [School Resource Officer], we have the resources to do that," she said.

According to Llodra's five-option plan for security, four new officers -- sans School Resource Officer training -- for elementary schools would cost the town $401,216. Llodra said the town could choose to provide the training, which would allow officers to incorporate into the curriculum, for a slight increase -- $5,000 per officer, "a very small amount of money," in her words.

In any case, Llodra said, the move is a step toward police presence at Newtown's four elementary schools. Newtown Middle School, Newtown High School and Reed Intermediate School each have existing School Resource Officers.

Private Schools Receive One-Time Grant

After a heated vote, the board also approved allowing a one-time grant of up to $60,000 to each of Newtown's private schools -- an increase from the $20,000 Llodra had supported, but not the equal funds some private school parents and staff had requested.

"The issue, really, is that we the public sector do not have the right to tell the public schools what they should put in place,"

Llodra said before a recess, after which the board returned with a higher figure of $50,000 per school.

The measure failed on the first vote. Then member James Gaston Jr. proposed a higher figure of $60,000 per school -- which passed. In arguing for the grant, board member Joe Kearney said he supported a "larger pot" for private schools.

"Newtown falls into a special category now, unfortunately," he said. "And I think therefore we have a special burden."

Kearney said if the town agrees to fund armed security personnel, it should extend to private schools as well -- up to $91,000 per school, to allow them to spend as much as the town would spend for police presence.

"I understand the slippery slope argument -- where will it end?" he said. But he said security guards spoke to an "essential element" of school, like bussing and nursing. "If the town agrees to place armed guards at public schools, they're almost forcing private schools to match."

Parents and staff at Fraser Woods Montessori School had been a vocal presence at meetings, asking for equal coverage from the town. Last week, Head of School Miriam Woods told the board she felt security was as important at private school as at public schools.

"We are in Newtown just like you, and the same insecurity you felt is on our end," she said.

In a public comment Monday night, resident John Neuhoff told the board he saw the need as a "town problem."

"If the schools were in any other town in America, they wouldn't have to change," he said. "Because they are located in Newtown, they have to change. If it's so important for the town do something for the public schools, they should also do it for the private schools ... The public schools can get the money from taxpayers like me. The private schools have to get money from parents who send the kids, and that's very limited. Because we're here, we have -- they have -- no choice."

The Board of Finance has scheduled an additional meeting for March 13 to discuss the budget before it moves to the Legislative Council March 14.

Donald McGarry March 13, 2013 at 05:40 PM
Hi Carlistojoe - Exactly !! ..he's trying to ban assault weapons and making proposals... and how and when are those pipe dreams going to help protect kid's in Newtown?? Maybe he should just compromse and aim for WORLD PEACE, That goal would be would be easier and quicker to accomplish. Tell the parents and kids..sorry guys but we have to wait .
Michael Cragin March 13, 2013 at 05:43 PM
i respect allll the input put into the newtown patch.....and find it invaluable...it is healthy for those with concerns to express them in here........(there is no way they will have reason to delete this post....like all the others).....cynically yours.....Michael
Fred March 13, 2013 at 05:57 PM
I agree "George S". Also, though people may feel differently, gun violence is on a decent decline in the US. A rare event has distorted perception, but perception is not the reality. To act like it is anything but a very very very rare chance that children will be lost in Newtown if they do not have armed guards is silly. To argue that the armed guards will make them safer is a tough thing to calculate as you are already so far to the right of the decimal of percent odds it is tough to improve upon. I guess if you assume the adversary will be nothing other than an unmotivated coward it may help. An officer outside SHE at Chalk Hill manipulates a puppet through a shopping bag to entertain. I do not disparage this, but it would show they do not sense an imminent threat either, though maybe the puppet has a hole for your trigger finger to reach through. Without spelling it out any rational person can figure out vulnerable points with the guards in place. I keep scratching my head wondering what I am missing in not pulling my hair out with worry, I love my kids too, and the only thing I can come up with is irrational emotion. To be honest at times I wish I shared the attribute so I can just join the "righteous" crowd as it sounds like that group really is getting a rush like they are saving lives, which must feel really nice, real or imagined.
tiredofthehypocrisy March 13, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Yeah... Have at it. Feel free to spend all you want. Just don't assume other people's opinions HAVE TO cater to your own. Time and time again, you continue to berate people who feel differently than you do. It sure must be nice to be right all the time. Living with you has to be a dream come true.
tiredofthehypocrisy March 13, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Why is it that the uber religious and the die-hard liberals are always the ones who alow their emotions to dictate their priorities. Whatever happened to rationality and common sense? As many have said already: Public Schools = Public Funds Private Schools = Private Funds A private school is no different than a privately funded music instruction, gymnastics class, cooking lesson, defense training, personal trainer/exercise routine, etc. If you people had your way, your kids in those classes would have their own taxpayer funded armed guard there too.
AnotherDay March 13, 2013 at 07:47 PM
Fred...couldn't agree more with all of your posts. I think you are my long lost twin. Armed guards make no sense and are just an emotional over reaction. The horse is out of the barn. This is not a trend and will never happen again...it never has anywhere else. If you don't believe this is true, then you must want armed guards on our school buses; at our soccer games, etc. Instead, put some money into technology...video cams in schools that go to officer's cars that are already patrolling the streets. Monitor schools at a central location and keep officers nearby. You can never predict when someone is going to snap...but have a mental health professional available for free to residents. Throwing money at this problem is wrong.
carlistojoe March 13, 2013 at 08:49 PM
D. At least he is doing something. The worst thing would be do nothing. No , the worst thing would be to arm everyone like the NRA wants.
Donald McGarry March 13, 2013 at 11:19 PM
some of you are right some of the time....I agree that an armed guard does not 100% guarantee that children will be safe from risk. I agree that there is a chance that children will be lost if they do not have an armed guard. I dare not guess and say if that chance is slim. Who am I to make that call?? I envy those who have the courage and profound insight that the rest of us lack, and the ability to predict probability when it comes to bargaining with other peoples' lives. How fortunate to be able to predict the probabilty that some child may or may not take a bullet, and then have the collossal balls to tag a dollar value on that info!!!. I am going to give the children the benefit of my doubt and err on the side of caution, just in case I'm mistaken. All variables equal, I am sure that a child with an armed guard at his site is safer than a child with no guard. I consulted some eight- year-olds and they confirmed that my reasoning was sound.
AnotherDay March 14, 2013 at 12:55 AM
D...then I'm sure you agree that we should fund armed guards on school buses as well. I know your children are worth protecting there. And even if the town won't fund protection on the school buses, you will happily pay for it. After all, it's only money. What parent would put money before keeping their children safe? Don't forget to lobby for armed security at the soccer games. Something could happen there as well.
LJD March 14, 2013 at 02:13 AM
My children attend Fraser Woods. I pay school and property taxes to Newtown and have for the past ten years. I also vote to pass the public school budget, year after year, to better the other children of my community, not mine. Our taxes pay for bus service and should pay for extraordinary security for all of our children. We are an entire community that suffered a horrific tragedy, it wasn't a public school tragedy.
LJD March 14, 2013 at 02:49 AM
As a private school parent, I pay Newtown school and property taxes, and have voted to pass the school budget for the past 10 years. I vote to better the public school, as everything can always stand to be improved, which will better the community and the children that live in Newtown. My taxes provide bus service and should provide the extraordinary security that we are now faced to endure. Children are children and we expect the town to take care of them all not the majority of them.
Donald McGarry March 14, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Another Day - I'm not sure what your trying to say in your comment. I may be way off, and I apologize if I am, but I'm getting that you're trying to confess to us that you don't want to pay for guards at schools ?? Am i right ?
Maggi Heilweil March 15, 2013 at 04:09 AM
I agree. I can't believe that intelligent people don't see this. And my tax money should go private schools??? Isn't that somehow illegal? Also, chances are there isn't another Adam Lanza around the corner. It was a horrible, unthinkable tragedy, but doesn't make Newtown any less safe than it was before this aberant incident. Let's put our money and energy into mental health care and programs that will help our children to understand the danger of guns but not to walk around in fear. Let's not act out of irrational fear and drama.
WaxyGordon March 19, 2013 at 06:57 PM
WHATS NEXT?...Armed guards at every little league game and youth soccer match?...We are creating a police state...
Donald McGarry March 20, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Hi Waxy - What is your issue that you, and a few others, insist on throwing yourselfs between children and the efforts to protect them?? Soon you may be perceived as the enemy. There are those out there who claim to care about the welfare of children, but who will exploit them at any opportunity. Tightening your wallet is a form of exploitation. Denying someone protection from harm is the same as inflicting the harm
WaxyGordon March 20, 2013 at 03:50 PM
D...I am being logical and rational...you on the other hand are using the tragedy to bolster your own agenda...accusing my stance as anti-child safety...how dare you accuse me of exploiting that horrific event
Donald McGarry March 20, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Hi Wax - Im being logical and rational also. An individual that chooses not to support the majority of the community in it's efforts to protect its citizens, is neglecting a responsiblity, and should be held accountable for that negligence. Maybe financial penalties..such as liens, can be implemented to encourage compliance??
Donald McGarry March 20, 2013 at 07:18 PM
I believe that most want professional protection, but many are hoping to enjoy the benefits, without pitching in. There should be a mechanism in place to prevent freeloading
WaxyGordon March 21, 2013 at 12:55 PM
D....WOW...So now you are proposing that people should have liens put on their property if they don't think like you?.......You would make a great communist dictator....Do you admire Stalin, and Kim Jung Un for their ability to make everyone think like them?..Whats next, rewards for kids turning in their parents if they over hear them saying that they do not want to have a armed guard in every place children are?...I do not want professional protection...I want our gov't to improve mental health and allow schools to intervene when a student is showing signs of mental illness
Donald McGarry March 21, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Hi Waxy I'm,saying that in our society, when the majority votes to approve something, those that don't agree still have the responsibiltiy to comply with the outcome. This is reasoning that corresponds with a democractic idealogy.Your pov is in opposition to that of the majority. My pov simply suggests a possible consequence for non-compliance, which also corresponds to democratic ideals. I dont know whats next Waxy, if and when I figure out the future, I'll be sure to share it with you..
Susan Joy March 21, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Schools have avenues to deal with or at least discuss unusual behavior with each other and with a parent Parents will receive suggestions, now I am not saying they all follow through, and a plan is usually put in place, Unfortunately many teachers and schools choose not to deal with this and hope it will go away, It can be a difficult conversation to have with parents so many times schools take the easy way out, do not discuss these concerns with the parents and do not document any problems they have seen in school. They count on parents to see the issues and deal with them privately. Hopefully one of the things that comes out of the tragedy is a great awareness of school personnel to report and parents to pursue help for their child rather than ignore it.
Donald McGarry March 21, 2013 at 04:45 PM
A fallacy is defined as a mistake in belief based on an unsound argument. ... a specific idea or practice with something or someone negative in order to infer guilt on another ... For example: “If we provide armed protection for our kids in schools , what's next?
WaxyGordon March 21, 2013 at 08:43 PM
Susan Joy..we cannot count on the teachers or school administrators to do anything more than acknowledge a mental health issue and report it, they are NOT trained to nor should they have to play psychologist for a student and his/her family. The reported behavior should be then handed over to professionals that actually are trained to intervene...however, our government does not think that there is any issues when it comes to mental health, they let all of the patients out of FFH's..where did they all go? Doctors prescribe psychotropic drugs out to kids like they were M&M's, with horrible side affects....Our politicians won't acknowledge that, , can't anger the big pharma companies that make big $$ contributions to their re-election funds....no, they just go after the law abiding citizens and want to take away their 2nd amendment rights, because that is the easy way to make it look like they are doing something
Donald McGarry March 22, 2013 at 02:19 AM
Hi Waxy and Susan - Seems like you both recognize that teachers are on the front lines in the battle against mental ilness. You both seem to agree that mental health support is needed urgently in our schools. Why?? Is it because mental illness is rampant, underecognized, and undermanaged??? If our public schools have become such havens for the mentally disturbed, and lets face it, we all know they are, then should'nt we make classroom safety our primary concern? Isn't safety the primary concern of any legitimately managed mental health care facility? It is the first topic in every mental health care site procedures manual. Teachers are responsible for reporting exceptional behaviors. As we have seen, they are also the first responders. Should'nt they be allowed to arm and protect themselves, and their students, from intruders and the potentially dangerous students they are exposed to??
Susan Joy March 22, 2013 at 12:16 PM
I am not sure I would go as far as saying mentally health issues are on the rise to the point of calling them rampant but they are under recognized, under reported & under managed many times by parents. Parents are the ones that notice their child is exhibiting unusual behaviors or at least behaviors that are not like other children that they are in contact with. For some they don't want to admit their child is out of the "normal" curve, for others it maybe that they dont have mental health component to their health insurance or it is not very good or the copay is very high or the time that "treatment" can be dealt with is very short. Drugs that treat "mental illness" can be very pricey and many times the drug copay is very high so they opt not to seek treatment for any or all of the reasons. As someone in this comment string said teachers are not mental health professionals but they are aware of what students are outside the parameters of school appropriate behavior and can discuss options for helping the child. I do not feel arming teachers with a weapon even with extensive training is a safe option. Where would a loaded gun be kept that would be very easy to access and yet safe from students. Guns are a magnet to many children because many have never seen a gun up close. I believe a load gun can be fairly easily discharged even with a safety on with inquisitive fingers handling it. "A teacher touches the future" do we want this message to be given to the future?
WaxyGordon March 22, 2013 at 01:06 PM
D..D..D...your quotes.."If our public schools have become such havens for the mentally disturbed, and lets face it, we all know they are, then should'nt we make classroom safety our primary concern? Isn't safety the primary concern of any legitimately managed mental health care facility?"...You seem to be saying that a school and a mental health facility are the same...they are not...for schools we need to go after the root cause, the student in need of mental health care, out of the school and under the care of TRAINED mental health providers....Our loving politicians have made it so hard for a school to do anything because they are so afraid of the bad publicity or a law suit...No child left behind is destroying our school system...they (schools) cannot call a spade a spade ,when it comes to a student of a teacher will get fired for being logical and caring
Donald McGarry March 22, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Hi Waxy..Your right, Public schools and mental health care facilities do have some differences - in a health care facility individuals that pose a threat are diagnosed, treated, isolated, and their movements closely monitored. They are also prevented from bringing weapons, drugs, and alcohol into the facility. I would love to able to say the same about our public schools.
Donald McGarry March 23, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Hi Susan - Your repsponse conveyed clearly some of the complexities of mental ilness. As you indicate, teatment is often long, expensive, complicated. Often with no guarentees of success. I agree with you, and I agree that the issue needs to be addressed urgently. However, like many pleading for health care reform, and obstructing advances in secuirty, you present no new proposals. Is'nt it time for change ?? (heard that before somewhere). Is'nt it time we tried a new approach? Because it appears we have tried and tried to achieve a new result with the same approach over and over again...which puts us in the insanity category Believe me, I hate to admit it as much as you, but maybe it is time to let the security experts take the reigns. When all else fails, its time to cut our loses, and pick up a weapon and protect ourselves. So at this point, I turn to them. Your assessment of the mental health care field has confirmed my already lacking faith in it as a miserable failure, pertaining to our school kids. I'm investing my time, money, and resources into security, The Newtown community has voted with sense. I hope they continue to move forward, instead of backward.
Donald McGarry March 23, 2013 at 11:06 PM
Susan - You are absolutely justified to be fearful of a firearm in any situation. The golden rule that all responsible firearm users practice is "every gun is loaded all the time" Please remember before you discount guns, that geat many things have been achieved, only with the help of a firearm. Why dont you visit one the the most prestigious gun clubs in the nation, located right down the street from Sandy Hook School? You will be warmly welcomed, and also very suprised at the clientel. I am certain you may see either your neighbor, dentist, lawyer, or physician there. I am not a firearms expert, but you will meet many there. They can help you better understand how thoroughly gun safety is practiced, and how firearms can be used safely as a very affective tool. They can better address some of the good questions you pose. These are questions that are running through the minds of many of us right now.
Donald McGarry March 25, 2013 at 01:47 PM
not such a crazy notion if we open our minds ..We are Israel now... We are a country at war,that is fighting terror in its streets. It is a good time for change. Training for average citizens...maybe required firearms training and defense techniques...Mandatory, just like a drivers license. A new prepared citizenry..just like the colonial days...every able -bodied citizen prepared and required to react at any given moment..it's not sci-fi...its adapting to the new world. A new idea to react to a new world...yes, it does need some tweaking. Read about it..when terror groups began attacking school children,the people reacted by training themslves to fight back. When armed kindergarten teachers fired back at terrrorists (and this occured frequently) the attacks immediately subsided and eventually ceased. Is this the answer??? Maybe not, but to believe that we dont live in that same world is dangerously ignorant.


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