Parents push Shelton officials on school security upgrades

One mom to the aldermen: ‘We’d like to see some action’

Three Shelton parents have again questioned the speed at which security improvements are being made to the city’s eight public schools.

They said while they appreciate that school and city officials are making process, they don’t want to see more delays.

Two of the parents, speaking at a recent Board of Aldermen meeting, questioned why a few recent meetings of the Public Improvement Building Committee (PIBC) had been canceled.

The PIBC is overseeing a few of the planned security enhancement projects, and subsequently was expected to meet after the aldermen meeting.

(Editor’s note: The PIBC has met monthly during the past few months, but not always on its regularly scheduled dates.)

 

‘It’s now 11 months later’

Carla Bucherati, Long Hill PTA president and parent, said she remembers when the issue of addressing security in school buildings first came up.

“It’s now 11 months later, from when we first heard of this project,” Bucherati said. “I think speeding up the process would be good, as we’d like to see some action.”

The improvements were first discussed in the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. Twenty first grade students and six educators were killed in the Newtown incident.

 

Setting deadlines

Beth Gabriel, a Long Hill parent, also was concerned. “I want to see action for our community in the schools,” Gabriel said.

Louis Dagostine III, a Booth Hill parent, suggested that setting deadlines for security work — from when bids will go out to when the actual work will be done — would make parents feel better about the process.

“Parents are very concerned at the pace that school security is being pursued,” Dagostine said.

Mayor Mark Lauretti briefly interacted with some of the concerned parents before the Board of Aldermen meeting, talking to them about their concerns.

 

Procurement rules can cause hurdles

Lauretti later said he understands their frustration with the process, noting that government rules on purchasing services and products can cause hurdles.

“They’re right — that’s public procurement,” he said, adding that some of the rules are necessary and some are not.

But progress has — and is — being made, Lauretti said. “There are multiple projects running in parallel involving school security,” he said.

He noted that new protocols for how the police respond to school incidents in Shelton now are in place. “We will reconvene again to review these,” Lauretti said.

Francis MacIlvain, PIBC vice chairman, said the PIBC will meet as often as required in the coming months to make sure security improvements are made on a timely basis.

“I understand the passion of the parents,” MacIlvain said. “I had kids go through the school system so it hits home when something like this happens.”

 

Enhancements

The Board of Education plans to install new state-of-the-art digital camera systems at the elementary schools. The three upper grade schools already have such systems.

School officials plan to add a security film and wire mesh to certain windows and glass doors at five schools, and more extensive architectural changes should be made to the three other schools.

The security film — a coating added to surfaces — is designed to slow down an intruder using a firearm, ax or other weapon to gain entry to a building.

 

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