Hundreds of school leaders review safety measures - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Hundreds of school leaders review safety measures

SOUTHINGTON, CT (WFSB) -

School safety officials told representatives of the media that they discussed several topics with local school administrators during a conference Monday including resource officers, school training programs and mental health issues.

Officials said the issue of gun control was not discussed; however, the possibility of teachers carrying guns was. Officials said the issue of armed teachers "was unrealistic."

"You can make sure someone knows how to use a firearm and shoot it, but you need to make sure the person who has that firearm knows how to use it in a school setting and to expect that, you're going to (have to) be able to train teachers and principals to do that," said Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents executive director Joe Cirasuolo. "The folks that came yesterday feel it's very unrealistic and can cause more problems than it's worth."

Educators from across the country came to Connecticut to learn more about what can be done to keep schools and children safe at a security symposium at the Aqua Turf in Southington on Monday.

More than 850 people attended the event. Educators, members of police and fire departments, mayors and town managers came together and discussed what changes need to happen to prevent another school shooting.

The conference was held after Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother while she slept at her home before he went to Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 20 children and six adults on Dec. 14. He killed himself as police made their way into the building.

Since the Newtown school shooting, parents told Eyewitness News their habits have changed.

"I've noticed more parents picking up their kids and dropping them off instead of taking the bus, so there is a lot of concern," said parent Susan Cancian.

Safety reviews are under way in school districts statewide such as Ellington, Wolcott and Waterbury.

 

In Glastonbury, school officials are putting in place $600,000 in security upgrades including guards at elementary schools.

In Bristol, administrators are tightening up their buzzed entry.

In New Britain, officials reviewed security last month, including cameras that monitor visitors.

With tight school budgets, the question of how to pay for some of these possible changes was also discussed. 

"We are going to have to come to terms with that and say OK, if we want to protect our children and we know there are things that can be done," Cirasuolo said. "Then we are going to have to find some way to fund it. People will have to come up with the money to do that way."

While there is no "one size fits all" approach, leaders said everyone needs to get on board.

"What we are recommending is that you look at all of the strategies that were presented and come together as a community as find out what's best for your community and for each school in your community," Cirasuolo said.

The security symposium, which was put together in two weeks, was presented by a number of organizations, including the state Department of Education, the Connecticut Association of Schools and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.

Just because the meeting is over doesn't mean the discussion will end. Participants filled out surveys to show what they're doing differently. And parents were happy about administrators and town officials going the extra mile.

"Anything positive for the school would be great," said parent Maria Santiago. "I'm 100 percent for them."

Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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