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Trumbull School Parents Want Safety, but No Armed Guards

Parents spoke at a special meeting of the Board of Education Dec. 27, calling for different levels of security for Trumbull's schools in the wake the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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.

MAC January 07, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Blumie's ideas are the WRONG approach. Dems' ideas and laws on gun control are NOT the answer! Who do you BLAME in Chicago for all the gun violence (not to mention the government incompetence, corruption and insurmountable DEBT)?? Perhaps the U.S. should pull out of Chicago? Body count: In the last six months 292 killed (murdered) in Chicago. 221 killed in Iraq AND ^^^ Chicago has one of the strictest gun laws in the entire US. ^^^ ^^ The leadership in Illinois - all Democrats. ^^ President: Barack Hussein Obama Senator: Dick Durbin House Representative: Jesse Jackson Jr. Governor: Pat Quinn House leader: Mike Madigan Atty. Gen.: Lisa Madigan (daughter of Mike) Mayor: Rahm Emanuel Thank you for the combat zone in Chicago. Of course, they're all blaming each other. Can't blame Republicans; there aren't any! Chicago school system rated one of the worst in the country. Can't blame Republicans; there aren't any! State pension fund $78 Billion in debt, worst in country. Can't blame Republicans; there aren't any! Cook County ( Chicago ) sales tax 10.25% highest in country. Can't blame Republicans; there aren't any! This is the political culture that Obama comes from in Illinois. And he, Malloy, and other career politicians are going to 'fix' "gun violence," and politics, and make the schools safe for us???
John Kriz January 07, 2013 at 09:51 PM
The problem with MAC's argument is that many Republicans, NRA members and police officers support Blumenthal's recommendations. It's not just a Democrat position. The NRA, a lobby for the gun manufacturing industry, opposes the recommendations. They don't represent their members, but the industry instead. Not surprising, since the function of the NRA lobby is to help sell more guns.
Freeasaneagle January 08, 2013 at 03:22 AM
Christine Ekstrom's point is extremely important. Enhanced measures and procedures are needed when students are picked up by their parents. Also, training and guidance should be implemented as soon as possible. What good are enhanced security plans if all school staff are not trained or given guidance? Very valuable discussions.
Freeasaneagle January 08, 2013 at 03:29 AM
Great points offered be Ekstrom and Leone and the others.

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