Board settles on list of safety upgrades



REGION 16 — The Board of Education has finalized a list of security improvements to be made in the district.

The roughly $1.95 million worth of upgrades was approved at the board’s Feb. 12 meeting. The board, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, is looking to bond the money for the improvements and will have to receive authorization to do so from voters. The details of the bond authorization are still being ironed out. Dates for a public hearing and referendum have not been set yet.

Director of Finance and Business Operations Pamela Mangini told the board last week she was “cautiously optimistic” that all of the necessary paperwork will be finished by the board’s meeting Feb. 26.

If the board gets approval, it will bond the entire amount of the improvements. However, more than half of the cost will be reimbursed by the state.

The district received a nearly $1.075 million grant from the state for safety upgrades in November. The grant was part of the Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety Act, which was the legislature’s response to the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

School security became a main concern of districts and the state after the shooting at Sandy Hook. Following the shooting, a security audit was performed on each school in Region 16 and the district office. School officials subsequently began working on the list of improvements to be made at the schools.

New digital cameras at the district’s five schools and the infrastructure needed to support the cameras make up a little more than $981,000 of the planned improvements. Existing cameras from Woodland Regional High School and Long River Middle School would also be moved to Algonquin and Community Schools in Prospect in addition to new cameras. The two elementary schools will be closed when the new Prospect Elementary School opens in the fall of 2015.

The new camera system will allow police officers to access live footage from inside the schools. Also, security guards will have the same access through iPads.

In addition, wireless cameras will be installed at the main driveway entrance and pump house at Woodland for nearly $17,000.

The list of district-wide upgrades also includes installing window film on all ground-level windows, an intercom system with remote release at food service entry points and silent alarms with remote emergency buttons to alert first responders.

The installation of tamper-resistant glass at the schools drew the most discussion at the board meeting.

Dave Langdon, the district’s supervisor of facilities and maintenance, described the glass as “bullet-resistant.” The glass won’t stop a bullet, he said, but it will not shatter after being shot. Langdon said the glass is designed to prevent an intruder from breaking through the glass after shooting it multiple times.

Heading into the meeting, the list of improvements called for installing the glass on the front doors at the schools for an estimated cost of nearly $6,000. Following some discussion, the board decided to install the glass on every exterior door for a cost of $80,000.

“Let’s face it, $80,000 onto what we’re spending that’s going to give a lot of comfort to a lot of the parents,” Vice Chair Priscilla Cretella said.