While the district has many security and safety upgrades planned, town and school officials said the district is not rushing security enhancements just in reaction to the Newtown shootings. The discussions about security in Farmington schools date back as far as Columbine, Councilman CJ Thomas said.
“It’s been tremendous that we’ve been ahead of this," Thomas said.
At a joint special meeting with the Board of Education on Tuesday, the council voted to increase the 2013-14 General Fund budget by $161,000 for the salaries, training and non-medical benefits of seven new school monitors as part of the safety measures and security upgrades in the district.
The council then backed moving $89,566 from the Medical Self Insurance Fund Reserve to the Medical Self Insurance BOE Claims account to cover medical benefit expenses for seven new school monitors. Officials arrived at that amount in the event that all seven opt in for medical benefits.
There is also $505,000 remaining in savings from the construction of Westwoods Upper Elementary School. The council unanimously approved transferring that "unobligated capital improvement project balance" from the project to the School Code & Safety Upgrades account for pay for "equipment and materials" needed to implement the new security upgrades in Farmington schools.
While it is not clear at this time if officials will use the full amount for the security upgrades, the option is there.
School officials said they prefer to hire monitors with law enforcement knowledge, but that is not necessarily required.
”The monitors would not be armed," Farmington Superintendent Kathy Grieder said.
But they would be trained so that they'd know what to do if a emergency situation arose.
“We would do that in collaboration with our police chief and our police department," she said.
Councilman Charlie Keniston asked whether the district considered making the monitors part-time like paraprofessionals and tutors, but Board of Education Chairperson Mary Grace Reed said that the consultant who did the security evaluation did not recommend part-time monitors.
Keniston shared feedback he said he got from some Farmington residents about security enhancements like adding a school resource officer that worry "we're looking at this as more of a fear or a concern than a security measure."
"How far are we actually letting these things carry us?" Keniston said. "It seems like it's stemming from an incident in Newtown, for example."
But Board of Education Chairperson Mary Grace Reed assured the council that this is not the case.
“This is not a district that is rushing to do things as I think you’re seeing other districts do," she said.
Grieder said that the district has a history of working with local law enforcement.
Councilwoman Nancy Nickerson praised school officials' thoughtfulness into the matter of security and said, “I appreciate you're not going overboard."