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Residents Unanimously Approve Phase I School Security Upgrades

Phases II and III to be part of 2013-14 budget discussion.

The 53 registered voters and two property owners in attendance at Thursday’s town meeting voted unanimously to approve a $70,000 appropriation from the town’s general fund for Phase I of the Brookfield School District’s security upgrade.

After a rundown of the security measures being implemented in the first phase and a few questions from residents, a hand count from a diverse room of voters was unanimous, resulting in applause.

The town’s portion will be met with $40,000 from the school’s capital fund, approved by the Board of Education (BOE).

Work will begin immediately on better securing the entry points at all four school buildings, according to district Director of Business and Technology Art Colley, and should be completed by the last week of January, early February.

This first phase includes installing double-doors at the main entrances — requiring visitors to get buzzed through the first set of doors and get a visitor’s pass before being buzzed through the second — and key-card-access locks to the teacher entrances, which will remain locked at all times.

The district will also begin putting shatterproof 3M security film on windows, which significantly strengthens the glass.

The next step in the security plan is to meet with town officials to work out financing details for Phases II and III, which are projected to cost $162,600 and $74,000, respectively.

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The school district plans to have discussions with the town in March/April to pinpoint specific funding sources, according to Colley and Superintendent Anthony Bivona, however it is expected that most of the funding will come from the municipal budget, rather than through the schools.

According to First Selectman Bill Davidson, the town’s portion of the funding for the latter phases will be worked into the 2013-14 budget.

“It’s best for everybody if we do this through the budget and not fund balance,” he said, as the entire plan calls for $347,500 for building upgrades and equipment.

“With something that’s a special issue like this, we certainly try to get it through,” Davidson said of Phase I. “It’s a classic reason to keep a good fund balance — things come up.”

Andrew Turkenkopf January 21, 2013 at 09:14 AM
I wish I had kept myself updated about when the town meeting on this was occurring. Mainly so I could have been the lone dissenting vote on this. Also, I might have offered some opinions, but probably not, as I fear pointing out flaws or ways to bypass any security measure (especially in a public forum) would probably get one branded (if not officially) as a less than desirable/potential threat, which would just be annoying when trying to help and strengthen a system and prevent wasteful spending. Also, some things mentioned facetiously or offhandedly to prove a point or two might actually be taken seriously by those in charge and (if a suggested security measure) actually applied, when the speaker's intention was the total opposite. *side note, in 6th grade, at WMS, first year the 2 story edition with the science labs and the seminar room (i think top floor was 8th grade, bottom floor was 7th grade) during the first fire drill I commented in the line that the evac procedure had the students exiting and standing in a "courtyard" created by the new addition and the rest of the school (and extended by what was at the time the 5th grade portables) so instead of in the past, evacuating onto an open lawn that was essentially the front of the school, students were supposed to exit into a U shaped area, 3 sides (burning?) school, capped by woods. I of course got yelled at by a teacher for talking during the drill, but the evac. procedure was changed. :-p
Rob Gianazza January 21, 2013 at 11:19 PM
Steve, you know that once we "go into and existing building" we need to bring the entire building up to current code. I can only assume you would like to expand HHES. My concern is several fold. First, we'd need to run a sewer line up White Turkey because there's no way the existing septic can handle an expansion. Two, there is inadequate parking for staff and visitors. Three, the driveways are already over burdened getting buses in and out. That would require a significant redesign of the grounds. Four, our experience with the high school should demonstrate how expensive it is to retrofit an existing building. The costs of undertaking your proposal would be astronomical for our community. Five, by expanding the footprint of the building and expanding driveway and parking areas, it would significantly impact playing fields for our students recreation. Please feel free to continue this thread, I think it is very important for our community to consider these varying points we are presenting.
Steven DeVaux January 22, 2013 at 12:54 AM
Rob, You don't have to renovate as new. Besides, hopefully the district learned from the mistakes made at the high school. The town owns the Ericson farm now, so playing fields can be located there contiguous to HHES property and the footprint of the parking lot and driveway expanded accordingly. HHES hasn't been touched since the mid 1990's and is due to be revisited. Closing Center School at the same time doing HHES just makes good sense looking at the student census projections.
Rob Gianazza January 22, 2013 at 03:17 AM
You have to bring the entire building up to current code in order to receive reimbursement from the state. Fire doors, handicap access. That includes restrooms. Also it would be foolish to close Center School prior to completing the renovation. Swing space was a critical issue at the high school. Remember you left before construction began. I lived it.
Steven DeVaux January 22, 2013 at 03:39 AM
Rob, Of course! Why wouldn't parent want their children to be in the safest building possible? Bringing a building up to code significantly enhances the safety of the building for both staff as well as young children. Eliminating harmful toxanogins is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. Post SRO's at Center School until HHES is complete. With no construction going on, it won't take more than a year if they fast track it and the competitive bidding will bring it in significantly under what it would have previously cost. Fire doors save lives. Handicapp access is the law of the land. It's not a child's fault they are handicapped. Parents would support if for sure if they knew what conditions exist now then.

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