The improved security measures that Greenwich Public Schools wants to implement are coming with a $1.5 million pricetag.
Superintendent Dr. William McKersie, along with Managing Director of Operations Ben Branyan and Director of School Safety Services Tom Bobkowski, presented a security proposal to the Board of Education at their work session Thursday night. The proposal is the result of a district–wide audit resulting in the recommendations, which calls for the significant financial investment of $1.5 million.
The upgrades and enhancement carries a price tag, which means it will first need to be approved by the Board of Education at their next business meeting on Feb. 21 at Julian Curtiss School. The public will be able to speak on the topic during the meeting's public hearing portion.
If accepted by the board of education, the next step would be asking for an interim appropriation, which will need to be approved by the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) as well as the Representative Town Meeting (RTM.) Under the “normal process,” Branyan explained the district would not have access to the approved funds until after July 1. Board of Education Chairman Leslie Moriarty added that the proposed amount was discussed at Thursday's BET review of the BOE budgets.
A breakdown of the enhancements and improvements is as follows:
- Intercoms Upgrades (9 locations) - $45,015
- Key Watcher System (17 locations) - $87,090
- Locking Devices (18 locations) - $348,350
- CCTV Recorders and Cameras (11 locations) - $219,365
- DSX Card Readers (8 locations) - $60,605
- Shades (13 locations) - $382,500
- Security Window Film (17 locations) - $42,750
- Bollards (15 locations) - $98,000
- Be Safe Floor Mapping Services (14 locations) - $18,681
- Project Contingency (15%) - $197,643
Branyan explained that he felt the contingency was at an appropriate amount given the “short burst of time” the district had to “assemble” the proposal. He added that he felt the district would also need to have “some ability” to be flexible at the “granular level” once implementation begins.
Other than a desire to standardize the security at facilities in a timely manner, another rationale for implementation is that Greenwich will be competing with other customers for the attention from the vendors.
Board member Barbara O’Neill asked whether the mapping expenditure is an effort that should be undertaken by the Greenwich Police Department. Branyan responded the “first responders (Police, Fire and EMS)” were approached and while they were receptive to the idea, they do not have the funds in their budgets.
“Are We Going Too Far…?”
Questions were posed by board member Adriana Ospina, who said that “unless we build Fort Knox,” there is no amount of money that will guarantee safety and security. She added, “We cannot think of every possible scenario,” except that “only in hindsight.” Ospina called for a “balance between limited resources and how far we want to go.”
“Prudent Level of Investment For Security”
Branyan revealed that when his team “built this proposal,” there was much thought spent on examining what is “reasonable versus extravagant.” The team worked closely with the Greenwich Police Department in developing the improvements and enhancements, who felt that there was “nothing on the list that is extravagant.” In fact, added Branyan, one officer commented that when you (it) breakdown, the expenditure per student it is reasonable.
Mental Health Needs To Be Addressed
In addition to her concern that the upgrades would create a “false sense of security,” Ospina stated that she thinks the district should “beef up our mental health services for our kids.” Member Nancy Kail agreed that the school system needs to “bolster that part” and she too would like to see a “robust” discussion. Kail said the GPS and PTA Council Mental Health Forum held Wednesday evening as an example of efforts that should occur.