Push for SRO at Saxe Gains Momentum among New Canaan Parents, Educators



New Canaan residents and educators advocating for a police officer at Saxe Middle School say the move would enhance not just student safety but also education and personal growth.

School resource officers or “SROs” have been found at the middle school level to anchor and guide students at a time when they’re “forming their identities,” Saxe Principal Greg Macedo said Wednesday.

“That is when they rely on their parents, teachers, coaches,” Macedo said during a Town Council meeting, held at the New Canaan Nature Center.

Prompted by Town Council member Steve Karl, Macedo’s comments come as the Board of Education—and every other New Canaan taxpayer-supported department and agency—approaches the final stages of the municipal budget process.

The police department requested about $100,000 for next fiscal year for a pair of positions that it says would improve service and reduce overtime—one of them would be the Saxe SRO (see page 53 in this PDF). The Board of Finance on Tuesday had approved $5.6 million for the department—that’s about how . A public hearing on the budget before the Town Council will be held April 2, with a final vote one week later.

Macedo said a SRO would help with formal education, such as through a collaborative classroom instruction or a constitutional law class. The officer also would be involved in counseling students at a critical juncture in their development, Macedo said, “and finally safety and security.”

“The response time to any event would be zero,” he said.

Dozens of parents say they support the proposed position at Saxe. In one week, this online petition launched by town resident and parent Cobie Graber garnered 100-plus signatures.

“Collaboration between our police, teachers and school administrators is key to providing the support, early intervention and role models that our tweens and teens so desperately need,” Graber said in the petition.  “The first line of defense in the war against prescription and illegal drugs, underage drinking and other destructive behaviors starts with having School Resource Officers in all of our schools. Let’s start with adding a dedicated School Resource Officer at Saxe Middle School.”

Here are some comments from New Canaan parents who agree:

  • “This is absolutely necessary.”—Claudia Pagazani
  • “I have a child at Saxe Middle School. I want a safe and drug free learning environment for all our children.”—Shekaiba Bennett
  • “More supervision at Saxe is beneficial to all the kids there and I feel it would be great for the kids to get to know their SRO officer and feel even more comfortable with the police in our town.”—Diane Hobbs

Town Council member Kevin Moynihan at Wednesday’s meeting asked Macedo whether it’d be possible to take the SRO already in place across South Avenue at New Canaan High School and have that officer split time at Saxe. Macedo responded that he wouldn’t disrupt a program that—as it is—is working well at NCHS.

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