Gov. Dannel P. Malloy successfully passed a security guard’s wanding at the front door of Wilbur Cross High School Thursday—then offered a sneak peek at his budget proposal that includes millions of dollars in school security upgrades.
In a press conference Thursday afternoon at the school at 181 Mitchell Drive, Malloy announced he aims to release $10 million to advance school security in the wake of the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown 13 months ago.
Flanked by his commissioners and preceded by a melodic “Lean on Me” performed by Cross’s a cappella group Origins (pictured), the governor said he $10 million for school security upgrades will be included in his upcoming budget proposal.
The state has already released one round of funding for school security in the wake of Sandy Hook. In the first round, 604 schools statewide, virtually all the applicants, received a total of $21 million. They included 13 New Haven schools whose collective $1.5 million grant was supplemented by a required $400,000 local match.
School Security Officer Trevor Hicks (pictured at the top of this story) wanded state Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor—along with the governor, mayor, superintendent and everyone one else, each treated equally from the security point of view—as they entered the lobby of Wilbur Cross.
“Everyone is treated the same,” Hicks said.
After he was successfully wanded, Pryor said details have not been worked out yet to determine if schools, like New Haven’s, who successfully applied and received funds in the first round are eligible for the second.
What is new about the $10 million, which must be approved by the legislature, is that it expands eligibility to all public schools, including technical and inter-district magnet schools that were previously excluded, Pryor said.
New Haven has used past school-security money for camera upgrades, connecting the school system’s more directly and quickly to the city’s 911 system, upgraded walkie-talkies and other communication devices, and a pilot program at Career High that is trying out substituting old-fashioned metal keys for key card access, according to schools Chief Operating Officer Will Clark.
The key cards would work like a hotel, Clark said.
School Superintendent Garth Harries and Clark said that since so many of New Haven’s schools are relatively newly built, the school security systems on the whole are already “ahead of the curve.” Yet some schools, like Cross, which was renovated a decade ago, already need upgrades.
The proposed new funding will provide the state’s 1,300 schools no new operational or salary resources for more security officers like Hicks. Or for more school social workers or psychologists to deal with issues of mental illness and how they bear on school security.
That matter, said the governor, is being addressed elsewhere. “This is capital [expenditure],” Malloy said.