Schools Plan $600,000 in Security-Focused Technology, Facilities Upgrades

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The district intends spend nearly $600,000 in the second phase of a plan to bolster security at all five public schools, officials said Thursday.

Though officials do not disclose publicly details of security plans and equipment in the schools, Superintendent Dr. Bryan Luizzi said during a presentation of the district’s capital budget that the planned upgrades involve continuing “some of the work that we began, finishing off a couple of things that we are important to finish.”

“There are technology components to this and there are also facility components to this,” Luizzi told officials from both the Town Council and Board of Finance during a meeting held in the Sturgess Room at the New Canaan Nature Center. “There are no staffing pieces to this, so there are not recurring costs that are built in beyond maintenance of the technology pieces that we have.”

The comments came after Luizzi’s formal presentation of the Board of Education’s proposed 4.87 percent increase in operations spending. Total capital needs during fiscal year 2016 will come to about $12.3 million, the district estimates—a figure driven mainly by an estimated $10.1 million project to renovate the 1957 Saxe Middle School auditorium and create sufficient visual and performing arts classroom space to accommodate a burgeoning student population. (Download a copy of the schools’ proposed budget here, and see page 131 for information on the district’s 5-year capital plan.)

Director of Digital Learning Dr. Robert Miller on behalf of the schools put in for and received a state reimbursement grant that will return about 20 percent of the district’s planned $598,500 investment in security, Luizzi said.

The “Phase 2” security proposal was designed by a Crisis Advisory Board or “CAB” led by South School Principal Joanne Rocco and New Canaan Emergency Management Director Mike Handler, Luizzi said.

CAB includes police, firefighters, school officials and others, he said. They meet monthly to look at the schools and security and do “tabletop drills” to plan and assess needs across the district.

“I think the work we are doing in this area is superb,” Luizzi said. “We really are doing things around this for our students and the community that others are looking at as a model to try and shape their own approach, and it is in large part thanks to Joanne and thanks to Mike and thanks to everyone who is a part of CAB. So this phase comes from their work and comes from improving and enhancing the security at each of our buildings and the responsiveness to the timeliness of response should a crisis occur.”

First Selectman and finance board Chair Rob Mallozzi said he’s “very confident” in the district’s and CAB’s work.

Town councilman Sven Englund asked Luizzi how the police officers who work in the schools—one “school resource officer” or SRO is assigned to Saxe and one to the high school—work in the larger security program.

Luizzi said they’re both active participants in CAB who address staff members on security issues and also interact regularly with campus monitors.

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