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Unknown Safety and Security Costs Add to Proposed School Budget Increase

Superintendent's proposed budget would increase by 2.16 percent without unforeseen expense.

School boards and superintendents spend months negotiating contracts, plan out equipment replacement over decades and slowly build programs, all in the interest of keeping costs – and budget increases – as low as possible.

But the Farmington Board of Education is facing a large chunk of its proposed budget increase that could not have been foreseen and still remains to be calculated: safety and security.

Like many districts, Farmington began taking stock of its schools' safety immediately following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown in December. Superintendent Kathleen Greider worked with Farmington Police Chief Paul Melanson to increase security in the days following the attack.

But since one hadn’t been done for a few years, the district solicited an audit of its safety and security measures, to be done by an outside expert along with the Farmington Police Department. Greider said the audit should be completed and presented to the Board of Education in May or June of this year.

Since the presentation will fall well after budgets have been set, Greider built in money to the 2013-14 budget for any recommendations that will come out of the audit. She included $200,000 as a separate project in the operating budget and $75,000 in the capital budget.

“It’s hard to put a number on it,” Greider said. “We’ve seen other districts and what they’re recommending. We don’t have a crystal ball … we’re making our best estimate at this point.”

In Avon, the town manager recommended $250,000 for school security measures, according to Avon Patch. Click on the link to see a list of recommended equipment.

The $200,000 has to be included in the schools’ operating budget in order to ensure the money is available but school board members said it also inflates the proposed budget increase.

Without the safety and security money, the superintendent’s request would be just 2.16 percent increase over 2012-13.

Lorren Pogson February 12, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Self defense classes should become part if the gym curriculum, it is far more rewarding and significant to the times than badminton. It builds strength, independence and teaches people how to deal with adrenaline, how to deal under pressure which is what they will be faced with should something like Newtown occur again. It may not be in Farmington where people encounter such a crisis either- but the training can help them anywhere. People should know how to handle themselves in a time of crisis. Hopefully the school won't go so far as to use x ray machines, although there is nothing like a healthy dose of radiation in the morning, day after day.....In all seriousness, individual training regarding the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders and aggressive behavior are the first line of defense- this goes above and beyond depression or common health themes. Students have to be more aware of their environment and everyone who is a part of it. The students and faculty and every member of this community needs to become more vigilant and rely upon our own senses , observation, communication and intuition to keep us safe. Anything else is an added bonus. In the meantime- locker searches and a guard at the entrance to escort and or search incoming visitors is a great place to start. It's unfortunate that we are at this point in society but we can persevere.
Louise Campbell February 12, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Brilliant!
Paul Chotkowski February 13, 2013 at 02:09 PM
When faced with unexpected expenses, most individuals, families, & private businesses reduce spending elsewhere to cover the unplanned expenditure. They do not continue to spend as if nothing has happened. If they do, they end up broke & on welfare. Only in government is an “unexpected” expense an excuse to spend more money. Only in government are the people responsible for anticipating & planning for reasonably probable occurrences [as Ms McCallum indicated in her opening paragraph] rewarded for their failure to properly plan with incentive pay & continued employment. Only in government does one expect taxpayers to change their family’s budget because management failed to do its job! Why is the expense unknow? Why is it not part of the capital plan or the baseline operating budget? The Columbine High School massacre occurred on April 20, 1999 almost 14 years ago. After all this time, the SOS & the BOE still don’t know what it is going to take to keep our schools safe or how much it is going to cost? If the Newtown Massacre had not occurred, we would not be having this conversation and that is unforgivable. The management of our schools should be terminated for cause - gross negligence and the BOE should be turned out for malfeasance! Shame on both groups. You have failed the children, parents, and taxpayers of our town! Since Columbine, we spent time and money on a security plan but now we learn it was insufficient WITH NO CHANGE IN THE THREAT PROFILE, UNBELIEVABLE!
mminieri February 17, 2013 at 03:21 AM
Good perspective from a Security Expert in a brief paper is here; http://www.minieriassociates.com/School_Security_Feb2013.pdf

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