While Trumbull School officials are not revealing their security plans, some Trumbull parents had a few suggestions.
They addressed the Board of Education at a special meeting Dec. 27, after which the board went into closed session to review its security plans. The board convened in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
"I wish we did not have to have this meeting," said school board Chairman Steve Wright. "We want to hear what you have to say about school security."
But he did request that parents withhold specifics about schools and send those messages privately. About a dozen people spoke of the 40 in attendance.
Some parents wanted police officers in schools but no one wanted armed private security. It should also be a top priority in terms of spending, they said.
"When I was a child, that was the definition of safe: school," said parent Cindy Penkoff, who also serves as an alternate on the Trumbull Board of Finance.
That peace of mind is shattered, and "nothing will fill the emptiness" left by the Newtown shootings, she added. "It's hard to say we can't afford [security]."
Christine Ekstrom said she's concerned that pickup policies in her child's school are not strict enough.
Jason Callaway, father of first-grader, said his wife "cries herself to sleep" over the shootings. He supported the cost of keeping police in schools all the time. "I'd personally be willing to spend more [in taxes]," he said.
Veronica Lenzen agreed, adding, "Please tell us what we need to know" about security measures.
Lainie McHugh called for more guidance counselors for children in addition to School Resource officers.
She also read a note from parent Cindy Katske asking for more parental involvement in planning security.
Denise Mather said she walked into one of her children's schools without being checked in and the adult she encountered did not check her identity. She also passed about 30-40 students on her way in before seeing her first adult.
She said prisons are more secure than some schools.
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Finally, she concluded that although raising taxes may hurt Trumbull residents, "These kids are coming to take over and need to be protected."
Joanna Leone, a former Trumbull substitute teacher, said security is paramount right now. In addition to security measures, she called for more training and guidance for people who safeguard children.
Two more speakers were concerned about children attended class in portable classrooms. They asked for more security for those children, saying they are exposed as they cross to the classrooms.
First Selectman Tim Herbst concluded the meeting with a vow to pay whatever it takes to secure Trumbull's schools. Part of the process is "maintaining open lines of communication," a lesson the United States learned after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
"If you see something, say something," Herbst said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Dick Blumenthal has proposed several regulations to prevent future tragedies:
- Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
- Better prevent mentally ill people and criminals from having access to firearms.
- Close loopholes that enable 40 percent of all gun sales to be made without background checks.
"This is our moment" to make change, he said.