Roman, who has two young sons, said she moved with her family to Newtown three years ago because of the schools. In the wake of the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that left 20 children and six faculty members dead, Roman said she and other parents want to ensure their children are safe in whatever school they are assigned.
"We feel this has gone from a want to a need," Roman told both the commission and the board.
She was not alone. A couple of other parents expressed similar sentiments, and the district has received close to 300 emails, many of them voicing concern about long-term security and police presence in the schools.
Schools Superintendent Janet Robinson said this presence is "indefinite," with Newtown's department supplemented by officers from other departments.
"I've told the police we need them," Robinson said, noting that children have not ventured outside for recess "because of anxiety."
Robinson said she believes the police presence needs to be maintained so parents and students believe it is "safe for them to go outside to play."
Sandy Hook Elementary has been temporarily relocated to Monroe, where there is a strong police presence in and out of the school.
Police Commission Chairman Paul Mangiafico told Roman her "presence is impressive" and that to have a voice she and other parents need to make their case to the other major boards and commissions in town.
"Whatever this town ends up looking like in six months or two years from now will be the result of a lot of thought," he said.
Board of Education Chairman Debbie Leidlein appealed to her six colleagues to make school security the top budget priority for the coming year. Members unanimously agreed to share that goal.
Prior to the Newtown shootings, the top financial priorities were all-day kindergarten, technology upgrades, high school accreditation preparation and curriculum changes to meet Common Core and new graduation requirements.
All that changed on Dec. 14.
District officials said they are working up financial projections for what the added security would cost.
Leidlein emphasized that what the teachers and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary did on that harrowing day was nothing less than a "heroic" act.
"I look at them with awe," Leidlein said. "What they accomplished was phenomenal -- for my children and for every child in Newtown."
Their reward is to be sure the district and community "do right by them," she concluded.
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