Aldermen OK hiring firm for security work at three schools

The Board of Aldermen has approved a $181,000 contract with a Hamden-based architectural and engineering firm to oversee security improvements at three elementary schools in Shelton.

Silver/Petrucelli & Associates will handle upgrades to entryways, door locks and windows at Long Hill, Mohegan and Elizabeth Shelton schools (this is known as “the three-school project”). The firm also will interact on the project with state officials, with some of the cost of the work to be reimbursed by state funds.

The aldermen unanimously approved the Silver/Petrucelli contract on Wednesday night. The firm was recommended by Mayor Mark Lauretti.

The vote led to a discussion about the need for the aldermen to be kept better informed of progress on this project and other school security projects by the Board of Education (BOE) and city Public Improvement Building Committee (PIBC).

Three projects in the works

There currently are three separate projects in various stages to enhance security, with work of some sort scheduled for all eight public schools in Shelton.

The projects require the involvement of a multitude of players in Shelton government, including the BOE, PIBC, Board of Aldermen, and Lauretti.

There has been concern by some parents that the projects aren’t being done quick enough, especially in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012.

Finn: Keep the aldermen informed

Alderman Jack Finn said with the approval of the Silver/Petrucelli contact, he hoped the PIBC would “keep this board and the public” informed on the status of the projects — including the costs, when they go to bid, and anticipated start and finish dates for the work.

“Make it public and let the Board of Aldermen know what we can expect,” said Finn, a Democrat.

Lauretti, a Republican, responded that the PIBC handles many projects and consists of volunteer members, and there “will be a record” of their actions through the PIBC meeting minutes. “Everyone wants to be kept abreast,” he said.

Lauretti said it was the BOE’s “responsibility” to keep the public informed on the school security projects.

Finn said at times, the BOE appears to have blamed the aldermen for delays in the projects. “They’re pointing fingers at us, which I don’t like,” he said.

Lauretti responded that this approach by the BOE is nothing new.

Anglace wants project ‘timeline’

Aldermanic President John F. Anglace Jr., a Republican, said Finn was making a good point.

“There’s an issue here that the public has not been informed,” said Anglace, who previously has suggested the BOE appoint someone to handle disseminating information on the status of the projects to city officials and the public.

Anglace said he wanted to know what “the timeline” was for the three-school project to be handled by Silver/Petrucelli, and he hopes the BOE “gets the message” that other municipal entities and the public should receive regular updates.

Lauretti said as far back as 2008, similar improvements to Long Hill, Mohegan and Elizabeth Shelton schools were to made but “it went nowhere because there was no point person at the BOE.”

Other two security projects

The other two security projects involve installing new surveillance camera systems at the five elementary schools; and adding ballistic window film and mesh to combat bullets and other weapons at five schools (Shelton High, Shelton Intermediate, Perry Hill, Booth Hill and Sunnyside).

These two projects are expected to be done quicker than the more comprehensive three-school project. It has been suggested by BOE officials that these two projects could be completed by the start of the next school year, if not earlier.

Lauretti said a factor that could drag out the three-school project is the waiting period involved in getting state approval for reimbursable projects. “We’re at their mercy,” he said, adding it can sometimes “take months” to get a formal response.

“That’s the way all these projects go — especially with education,” the mayor said.