Borough schools get security grant

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NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck school district is among the three dozen districts in the state to receive funds to make security improvements in the first round of a competitive grant program. 

On Sept. 18 Gov. Dannel Malloy announced that 169 schools in 36 districts will receive a total of $5 million in grants for school security. The grants were part of the Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Act, which was the legislature’s response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

“After the horrific events on Dec. 14, [2012], Connecticut cities and towns moved swiftly to improve security infrastructures at schools in need,” Malloy said in a press release. “We will never be able to prevent every random act, but we can take the steps necessary to make sure that our children and our teachers are as safe as possible. This funding allows districts with the most need to implement modern security measures that will make schools safer.”

Naugatuck will receive approximately $463,000 in grant funds, supplemented by $151,500 of local money, to make security upgrades in Andrew Avenue Elementary School, Maple Hill Elementary School and Hop Brook Elementary School, Business Manager Robert Butler said.

Butler said the grant will only be enough to cover the upgrades to three schools, and the district had to decide which ones needed it the most.

“It’s a tough call. How do you choose which ones? That’s why we asked the superintendent and that’s what was suggested,” Butler said.

Butler said there are four main upgrades that will be done at each of the schools.

A full video system will be installed that will allow the police department to look into any hallway in the school and all the external doors will be replaced so they can not be pushed or shot through, he said.

Two dozen ground-level windows will be reinforced with shatter-resistant film, Butler said. New locking systems will also be added on interior doors so that teachers do not have to leave the classrooms to lock the doors, he said.

The upgrades came from recommendations by the police department, Butler said. The district will receive the grant money as a reimbursement after it completes the work, he said.

“We pay upfront, submit the expenses to the state, and get reimbursed,” Butler said.

The district’s next step is to request and accept bids for the work, Butler said.

Once the district has the contractors in place, it will only be able to do the work when school is not session.

“My intention is, during various shutdown periods, we will be doing some of the work. The rest will be done during summer,” Butler said.

Malloy said the $5 million represents the first installment of $21 million that his administration plans to distribute to local districts to upgrade security protections.

The legislature and Malloy approved bonding $15 million for capital projects to make school buildings more secure. Malloy said the administration will be distributing the remaining $10 million soon. The State Bond Commission will have to approve the additional funding first.

The Governor also said he is directing his budget office to reallocate another $6 million from previously approved bonds to help finance these building projects.

The competitive grants were awarded based on school security assessments that each district submitted to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

Malloy said the districts that were selected in the first round either had pressing security needs or could proceed immediately on security upgrades.  

State Sen. Joseph Crisco (D-17) said, in a press release, the legislature set up this program to address the school safety issues that became everyone’s concern last year.

“The security infrastructure upgrades we envision are meant to prevent or avoid a crisis wherever possible, and this initiative fortifies our efforts to deter violence in that regard,” he said.

Butler said the district plans on applying for the grant for upgrades to three more schools each of the next two years. Naugatuck High School will not need security upgrades as the current renovations taking place there will include them, he said.

The Republican American contributed to this article.