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School security upgrades already proving costly

GLASTONBURY, CT (WFSB) -

After the tragedy in Newtown, schools across our state and around the country began taking a hard look at security, but those measures do not come cheap.

"On Dec. 15, when the sun rose on Connecticut school campuses public, private and Catholic, I think there was a new normal for us," said Connecticut Association of Independent Schools Executive Director Doug Lyons. "I think whatever policies procedures, practices, protocol standards we had in place, all of us wanted to relook at those."

On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

"I couldn't stop crying, honestly, it affected me," said Superintendent at Hartford Archdiocese Catholic Schools Dale Hoyt.

Through their own grief, school officials are focused on what needed to be done. In Glastonbury, they are starting right away.

"There's an obligation," said Glastonbury Public Schools Superintendent Alan Bookman. "There's an obligation to do everything you can to safeguard the students in the town from something like that happening here or anywhere else."

Town Council quickly approved $485,000 for new technology at school buildings, including swipe cards, buzzers and cameras. Another $218,000 was approved for security guards to finish out this school year and $500,000 for the next year.

All of the security measures are expected to cost more than $1 million and all will be paid for by the taxpayers of Glastonbury, Bookman said. He told Eyewitness News that he is hoping to receive state or federal funding, but none has been approved or received at this time.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget proposal does not include specific funds for school security. However, it does increase municipal funding by $30 million. The governor's office said towns could choose to put some of those funds toward security.

"If the states going to fund the security or the municipality, let's fund it for all the students, public and non-public students," said Hoyt, who oversees Catholic schools in 26 towns.

Hoyt told Eyewitness News that he faces a different when looking at increasing safety measures at schools. Instead of increasing tuition, he said he is hoping that state lawmakers will help out his schools with funding.

"I realize that we are in a tight budget here in Connecticut," Hoyt said. "But, I think our eyes were opened in December and we have to put our children first."

Lyons, who oversees 97 privately funded schools, faces a similar problem.

"We're not about to gate, or moat, all of our schools," he said. "And so what we need to look at is, what's reasonable?"

Lyons said what changes are made will be decided on a school-to-school basis.

"We will find a way to run more efficiently in other areas, but we're not going to ever make a decision about school security that's been motivated by cost," he said. "That's not going to happen."

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

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