Posted on 07 May 2013.
With Bob “the techie” working at the polls all day today, Maria “the untechy” is copy and pasting into this post all the information we have made available in The INDEPENDENT on the school security upgrades project:
Following are reports and opinion pieces on the proposed school security upgrades project at the three New Hartford elementary schools that is being voted on at referendum today, May 7:
April 27 Issue, page 7:
One Parent’s View On School Security
By: Martha Busemeyer
Many of us think increased security measures in schools will make them safer. But consider these facts:
•December 1997: 14-year-old Michael Cameal killed three and wounded five students in West Paducah, Ky.
•March 1998: In Jonesboro, Ark., after tripping the fire alarm to empty the building, 13-year-old Michael Johnson and 11-year-old Andrew Golden shot at their teachers and classmates who were standing outside, killing 4 students and 1 teacher.
•May 1998: Kip Kinkel, 15, killed his parents at home and then went to school, killing two students and wounded 22 others.
•April 1999: Columbine. Despite the presence of an armed guard who tried to stop Eric Harris, Harris and Dylan Klebod killed 12 students and 1 teacher and injured scores more.
•March 2005: 16-year-old Jeff Weise left a total of 10 dead at his high school in Red Lake, Minn. One of his victims was one of two security guards manning the metal detector at the school.
•Dec. 14, 2012: Adam Lanza, fired multiple shots to shoot his way around the locked door and into Sandy Hook Elementary School. Killing 26.
There have been 77 school shootings worldwide from 1996 to the present, 61 of which were in the United States. Of those, 44 happened at high schools, middle schools or elementary schools. And the shooter was a student. Of the other 17, 11 were at a university; two were gang-related; and four involved men entering a school and shooting. The vast majority of the shooters in school shootings are students – the people we are trying to protect.
After the shootings started in the mid ‘90s, schools started taking safety measures. Armed guards. Cameras. Panic buttons. Bullet-resistant. Schools implemented “hard” programs: mandatory expulsion for a weapon in school, zero tolerance policies and random locker checks. Yet the shootings are still happening. Mostly by young students, boys aged 11-17, who suffer from mental health issues, had discipline issues at school, felt marginalized, bullied, teased.
It does not, therefore, make sense to me to allow knee-jerk reactions to Newtown to cause us to amp up our security to the tune of $565,000. Statistics from the FBI, Center for Disease Control and the Bureau of Justice studies indicate that school is the safest place for children to be. Evidence points to the fact that what we need to be spending the money on is educating, nurturing and loving our children. We should be funding “soft” programs – a collective term for programs that teach conflict resolution, anti-bullying, anger management and emotional intelligence. This, according to many child-development experts, is what will fundamentally improve school safety.
If the windows and doors at our schools need work, then we need to do that. We do not need to be paying for bullet-resistant doors. All windows and doors should be fully functional and lockable. That is common sense. And yes, in this day and age we probably do need to lock and monitor the doors with buzzers and intercoms. But do we need to reconfigure a school? Moving the front office at Antolini may offer a slightly better view of who is coming up Antolini Drive, but that is a steep hill and there is not much of a line of sight, even from the vantage point of where the new office would be.
Furthermore, my understanding is that the proposal to move the office was made in part because it would then be in a more secure part of the school – as opposed to all the windows that are near the current entrance. But those windows are not being replaced or removed or even upgraded. They will still be there, non- bullet resistant, right in a lot of classrooms. How does moving the office make the children in all those classrooms with all those windows any safer?
So to me, $565,000 is too much to pay for a false sense of security. Instead, let’s use our resources to teach our students to make the world a better place. Let’s use our resources to make our students the best they can be. Let’s not use our resources on expensive Band Aids – Band Aids that will not help make the world a better place and will not make out children any safer.
The above is an Opinion piece submitted to The INDEPENDENT by Martha Busemeyer, a parent with two children in the New Hartford elementary schools.
April 19 issue of The INDEPENDENT:
New Hartford Budget 2013-14:
Budget Removed From Town Meeting, Sent Directly To Referendum On May 7
After the proposed town budget for the 2013-14 Fiscal Year was presented at a Public Hearing, the New Hartford Board of Selectmen once again prescribed a unique route for the adoption of the budget, a route which only New Hartford, out of all the statutory towns in the state, follows. This is their route:
After the Public Hearing the Board of Selectmen held a Special Meeting on April 9, during which they set the date, time and manner of the Annual Budget Meeting; the meeting was set for April 24 at the Town Hall, and the two items on the call were:
1.Discussion and act upon the budget.
2. To adjourn said Budget Meeting at its conclusion to a vote by tabulator.
Having set the call, they then immediately vote to remove item #1 from the call, eliminating discussion and action
on the budget. Since item # 2 sends the vote to referendum, New Hartford holds a Budget Meeting that is devoid of content. Such has been the situation for 20+ years and such is the situation set up for this year as well. But back to the budget.
The New Hartford Board of Finance held a Public Hearing on its proposed budget for the upcoming 2013-14 Fiscal Year on Tuesday, April 9, in the Senior Center in Town Hall. Approximately 30 residents attended the hearing.
Board of Finance Chairman Ben Witte gave a brief overview of the town’s revenues (no increase in the grand list and no increase in state revenues).
On the expenditures side, there is a 0.1% decrease in the Town Government, a 1% increase in the local New Hartford schools Board of Ed, and a 4.2% increase in the Regional # 7 Board of Ed budget. New Hartford’s student population has decreased at both the elementary and at the middle and high school levels. At the elementary schools, the student population is projected to decrease by 28 students next year; at Regional # 7, the number of New Hartford students for next year is projected to decrease by 5 students.
The $565,000 security upgrades project was not included in the proposed budget and so was not part of that evening’s discussion.
At a Special Board of Finance Meeting on Tuesday, April 16, no substantial changes were made to the proposed budget other than those resulting from Regional and the local schools having switched to Connecticare.
To view the budget visit the town website: www.town.new-hartford.ct.us. This will be the budget brought to referendum unless a request to discuss and consider the budget at the Budget Meeting is successful.
April 13 issue of The INDEPENDENT
Security Upgrades Project:
Vote Sent To Referendum
By: Maria Moore
In a dizzying round of 7 meetings in 9 days the security upgrades project proposed for the three New Hartford schools has been sent to a referendum vote by the town’s selectmen.
The project was first presented to the New Hartford Public Schools Board of Ed at their Tuesday, April 2 meeting. Making the presentation were Denton Butler and Roy Litchfield, members of the Wastewater Treatment Plant Building Oversight Committee, who together with Board of Ed member Melissa Giaconia were appointed to the Building Studies Committee by the town’s selectmen. That committee’s scope had originally been to recommend a doors and windows replacement project at the Antolini school; however, after the Newtown school murders, their scope was changd to a security and door upgrade project at the town’s three elementary schools.
The project presented by Denton and Roy at the April 2 Board of Ed meeting had been prepared by the architectural firm Kaestle Boos and included the the following recommendations:
- Replace the exterior door with bullet-resistant doors for all three schools;
- Buzzer systems for all three schools;
- surveillancce cameras at all three schools;
- moving the Antolini School office from its current location on the east side of the school to the west side of the school so that office personnel can see the cars approaching the school.
The total cost of the upgrades for all three schools is $565,000, of which $71,000 is for the upgrades at the Bakerville School, $131,900 at New Hartford Elementary, and $362,100 for the upgrades at the Antolini School.
After Denton and Roy’s presentation the Board of Ed members voted to accept the security upgrades project in total and they referred it to the Board of Finance. That Board’s members, who had convened a special meeting at the Board of Ed meeting, then went to another room to discuss and act on the security upgrades project. They decided to fund the majority of the cost of the upgrades by using reserve funds and to include the project in the town budget whis is being put together for the next fiscal year beginning July 1.
Following their Tuesday evening decision, members of the Board of Finance agreed to meet again to reconsider their decision regarding the security upgrades. This second meeting took place on Friday evening, April 5, and at that meeting the Board of Finance memebers agreed to treat the security upgrades project separately from the budget process and to fund it completely out of the town’s reserves. This way they could hold a separate Public Hearing on the project to receive residents’ input.
At the Budget Public Hearing on Tuesday, April 9, residents at that meeting were informed that the securities upgrades project would be discussed at the Public Hearing on Thursday evening, April 11.
On Thursday evening, approximately 30 residents showed up to the Securities Upgrades Informational Meeting – there had not been enough time available to notice the meeting as a Public Hearing.
The input from the general public was more against accepting the project in its totality than for accepting it as presented. In this statement we are not including the Board of Ed members and the Superintendent of Schools who also expressed their opinions on the project.
There was general agreement that some security was necessary since the town’s three schools lack basic security measures such as buzzers at the front entrances of the buildings.
A common concern expressed by residents was whether it was really necessary to move the office from one end of the building to the other. Some of the residents expressed the sentiment that they did not feel it was necessary to expend funds on moving the office for what some characterized as an “esthetic” upgrade. Others present voiced the opinion that those funds would be better used to install more security cameras or to have a security officer available at the schools.
After all residents had been given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments, the Board of Finance members voted to fund the project from the town’s reserves and to send it to the selectmen to send the project to a town meeting.
The Board of Selectmen, who had convened a Special Meeting at the Informational Meeting held a brief meeting during which they voted to add the project to the call of the Town (Budget) Meeting scheduled for April 24. They then proceeded to remove the item from the call and send it directly to a referendum vote. This action took away the possibility of residents being able to discuss and make changes to the project, which they are legally able to do at a town meeting.
The referendum vote on the security updates will be added to the referendum that has been scheduled for the proposed budget on May 7.
April 6 issue of The INDEPENDENT:
NH Board of Finance Acts On Security Upgrades
The New Hartford Board of Finance members who had called a special meeting to attend the Board of Ed meeting on Tuesday, April 2, removed themselves to another room to discuss taking action on the security upgrades study that had been accepted by the Board of Ed.
Their discussion revolved around whether the cost of the security upgrades should be added to the Capital Projects section of their proposed budget or whether that project should be handled separately from the budget by funding it from the town’s reserves. The Board approved adding the project to the budget and funding the $565,000 by using $400,000 from reserves. $30,800 from the Board of Ed Capital, and the balance with new taxes.
On Thursday, April 4, the Board of Finance members called a special meeting for Friday, April 5 to revisit this issue in light of new information that had become available after their Tuesday evening meeting.
The Board will present its proposed budget at a Public Hearing on Tuesday, April 9.
April 6 issue of The INDEPENDENT
Proposed Security Upgrades For Town’s Schools Total $565,000
The study of the security upgrades needed at New Hartford’s three elementary schools has been completed and the results of that study were presented to the Board of Ed members during their Tuesday, April 2, meeting. Also in attendance at that meeting were the members of the town’s Board of Finance.
Denton Butler and Roy Litchfield presented the recommendations for each of the schools; the two men are members of the School Building Study Committee which oversaw the process. The school identified as needing the most extensive security upgrades is the Ann Antolini School where it is proposed that the main entrance will be relocated to the other side of the building next to the library; this move will allow the office staff to have a better viewpoint to see who is approaching the school. It is proposed that exterior doors will be replaced with new bullet-resistant, hollow metal doors and frames. The new entrance would have an intercom/buzzer system with security cameras. There would also be a card reader/keypad device to gain entrance into the school. The total project cost for Antolini is $362,100.
Both New Hartford Elementary School and the Bakerville School would have new bullet-resistant, hollow metal doors and the same intercom/buzzer systems with security cameras and card readers/keypad devices as proposed for the Antolini School. The total project cost for New Hartford Elementary School would be $131,900 and for the Bakerville School it would be $71,000.
The windows at the schools were not part of the scope of the study and therefore would not be included in the upgrades.
The total cost for the security upgrades at the three schools totalled $565,000 which is $65,000 more than the $500,000 figure which both the Board of Ed and the Board of Finance had referred to in their budget discussions.
A question was asked about which area the children would use as a playground if the main office were relocated to the end of the building where the children now play and Roy confirmed that the children would play in the circle in front of the existing office at the other end of the building. Superintendent Philip O’Reilly said that the playground would ultimately be located at the top of the hill (behind the school). Additional questions included whether the windows would also be upgraded and the answer was that to do so would be too expensive. A member of the Board of Finance expressed his reservations on undertaking the project without any guarantee of receiving reimbursement from the state. After answering all the questions from those present, the School Building Studies Committee ended its presentation. The Board of Ed then went on to accept the security upgrade recommendations contained in the study. The Board of Finance members then retired to a separate room to decide on their course of action following the Board of Ed’s action on the matter. See the report above for a summary of the Board of Finance’s meeting.