The Town Council approved a special appropriation of $133,690 for purchases related to school security Thursday night.
After nearly three hours of sometimes vigorous deliberation, questions on procedure, a failed attempt to reach the town counsel, and an impassioned speech by Superintendent Mary Kolek that drew vigorous and immediate applause from the audience, the Town Council reached a "miraculous" unanimous decision, as Chairman Mark DeWaele said after the vote.
The money, augmented by $144,931 the school district will find within its existing budget for a total of $274,869, will go toward campus security monitors at each of the elementary schools and two at Saxe Middle School for the remainder of the school year, locks for many doors in the schools that can be locked from the inside of the room, and several other smaller communications items like radios and batteries.
"I'm elated. Elated. We did the right thing," Town Council member Christine Hussey said after the meeting.
One of the main topics of discussion was what exactly an unarmed campus monitor would be good for in a Newtown-type situation. Kolek said that though Newtown was the impetus to take another look at school security, the items proposed to the council were not intended to prevent an incident like that.
"What happened in Sandy Hook made us stop and we reacted to it, but we didn't have to be reactive," Kolek said in the first of her several addresses to the council. Rather, the district, in concert with the police, fire, and emergency operations departments, decided on a course of action that would reduce the security risks that could be reduced, she said. One of the main ways would be to replace the volunteer parents and school staff that have manned the desks up until now.
"There were often open spaces at our desks when we had volunteers. In some cases, principals, administrative officials were [there]," Kolek said.
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