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Tensions run high among Brookfield Selectmen during Armed School Security funding debate

There was a heated discussion at the Brookfield Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night when members talked about school security concerns.  First Selectman Tara Carr wanted the Selectmen to decide on the funding source to set in motion a plan to employ the Armed School Security Officers, pending Board of Ed approval.  There was about 30 minutes of debate with Selectman Steve Dunn noting that they can't make an allocation for something that hasn't been requested since the Board of Ed is different than every other town government entity. 

Dunn argued that if the funding was approved, the Board of Ed could then spend that money on whatever they want. 

Carr said both he and Selectmen Harry Shaker don't have children in school and know what it feels like to send kids to school unsafe every day.  Dunn called that comment offensive.  Carr argued that she didn't want to get bogged down by the process, but Dunn countered that it's the school board's job to decide on security and not the Selectmen. 

Dunn and Shaker agreed that the town should spend whatever is needed, but say allocating funding from now is putting the cart before the horse. 

Shaker called it a question of policy and procedure and asked if they ignore the process for this, where would they draw the line.  Carr gave the example of additional funding for a wall at Whisconier Middle School, but Dunn noted that school buildings are in the town's purview.  Carr responded that the safety of students should be the town's responsibility as well. 

Carr met recently with the Superintendent, Board of Education Chair and Chief of Police.   From now to the end of summer school, there will be police presence at each school.  They came to a consensus to employ school security officers at each school beginning in the Fall. 

She noted that Brookfield Police received cost estimates in January from New Milford Police, which looked at ASSO rates from Watertown, Sherman, Easton, Redding, Ridgefield and elsewhere.  They range from $24-$30 per hour, plus sick time, days off and other benefits. Brookfield officials estimate there would be 182 to 186 days of work, at 8 hours per day, with benefits, would be about $75,000 for each position.  Carr proposed up to $600,000 from ARPA funding be used. 

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