(WTNH) – School districts all across Connecticut are stretching every dollar.
In Woodbury and Region 14, they installed some simple and cost-effective solutions to improve school security.
Doors and windows inside and outside of the schools are numbered with easy-to-see signs.
“Typically, a numbering system is flat on the wall, that takes extra time to get to potential victims,” said Dr. Anna Cutaia, Superintendent of Region 14 schools.
The district is using tinted numbering systems.
“It makes it easier to see for first responders down the hallway,” said Dr. Cutaia.
The district has four schools and took bold action after the devastating events in 2012.
“Right after Sandy Hook, I made a phone call to Joe and said, ‘We need to talk,'” said Mary VanAken, Chair of Safety Committee and Vice Chair Board of Education in Region 14.
Since then, cameras and physical upgrades have been added along with some major safety moves when it comes to personnel.
Each school in Region 14 has a full-time police officer stationed inside.
It’s a strong deterrent to any threat that may show up outside.
“There’s an immediate statement,” said Dr. Cutaia.
The role goes beyond just added security.
“The important part is that their are building relationship with kids,” said VanAken.
In larger school districts, like New Haven, newly-installed superintendent Dr. Carol Birks has been assessing security strengths and weakness across schools in The Elm City.
“We’ve been moving a lot in these past six weeks,” said Dr. Carol Birks.
Birks says with everything happening across the nation, she was concerned with the sense of urgency in getting security improved.
She would also love it if she had more security officers stationed at her 48 schools.
Given our fiscal constraints, right now we have a $6.5 million shortfall,” said Dr. Birks.
The school district will have to reorganize to find the cash for more security personnel inside schools.
“You always have challenges when it comes to personnel, so the more personnel you have the better,” said Chief Anthony Campbell of the New Haven Police Department.
Chief Campbell is capitalizing on strengths, like surveillance cameras inside schools.
“Whenever you are dealing with 22,500 students every single day, you want to try to ensure their safety and use the technology to your best advantage,” said Chief Campbell.
Police officers can now pull up floor plans of every school and have key card access.
“If we have an active shooter situation or hostile situation, from a floor plan stance, we know were individuals are, where are the safe areas that the students are told to go,” said Chief Campbell.
Officers can also watch surveillance cameras from inside schools on their cell phones, providing invaluable real time information.
The challenges are linked at all schools across Connecticut, and all face a lack of resources.
Fran Rubinowtiz, who heads the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, hears from the top leaders at schools across Connecticut, and hears about the biggest issues facing our state’s schools today.
“They are also saying that they do not have the resources they wish they had to have the safety training and resources across the board that they feel would be really beneficial in their schools,” said Rubinowitz.
For now, New Haven, Woodbury, Region 14, and all other schools across Connecticut are doing the best they can with what they can afford.
“Every time there is another crisis, we are reminded this has to be priority one,” Dr. Anna Cutaia.
The Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security provided WTNH with a list of all schools since 2016 that have sent in an school safety plan.
To see if your child’s school is on the list, find it below (Note: Just because a school is not on the list, does not necessarily mean they do not have a safety plan):
|4||Norwich Free Academy|
|4||Regional School District 19 – EO Smith Mansfield|
|5||Regional 7 New Hartford-Norfolk-Colebrook-Barkhamsted|