Newtown officials meet to discuss funding for officers in schoolsPosted: Updated:
Ever since the tragedy, Newtown parents have been looking for permanent police presence at each private and public school in town, and school and town officials said they support the measure.
However, Newtown leaders will have to determine if the town can afford a four-percent increase to its budget to pay for 11 new officers that the police commission has requested to be hired.
"99 percent of it is the main focus," said John Kortze, who is the chairman of the finance board. "So I would interpret that as a priority."
Since officers come out of the town's budget, not the schools, it'll be up to the finance department to come up with the about $1 million needed to pay for the officers.
"This is just a small piece of the puzzle overall, but hopefully we can figure it out," Kortze said.
The committee will then submit the new budget with the added officers to the council.
"We need to have the best of the best protecting our children," said Newtown parent Christine Wilfred, who was present at the meeting.
Parents at the meeting offered to pay extra in taxes and even volunteer to be armed guards themselves, as long as they can have the peace of mind their kids are safe.
"And this recommendation comes with a significant price tag, but the long term cost of not implementing the SRO program to all our schools would be an even greater expense," said Zelda Smith.
However, when Eyewitness News talked to parents and residents earlier in the day, they were divided on the issue measure.
"Whoever has a gun will be more nervous to go to that school because the police will be at that school," said parent Ivan Palominos.
"I don't think putting people in uniforms in an environment where the occupations of children are playing and learning is going to be conducive to an anxiety-free environment," said parent Margo Gross.
Millions of dollars came pouring in after the tragedy. Officials told Eyewitness News it's a very gray area as to whether the town can pull from those donations or not. But once that answer is clear, it'll help them gauge whether or not they can afford these extra officers.
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