School districts add extra security to keep students safe

NORTH BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — As kids head back to class, school security is on the mind of many parents. Seemingly random acts of violence and mass casualty are becoming commonplace in the United States. Perhaps the most shocking act of violence, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 20 children and six educators, is why the North Branford school district placed armed guards at every school in the district.

“Until we can come up with a more cost-effective, better way to secure our school buildings, this is proven worthwhile for North Branford,” Scott Schoonmaker, Superintendent of North Branford Schools said.

He says it’s costing taxpayers $135,000 per year to keep seven security officers posted at the town’s four campuses, but it’s well-worth the price tag.

“We felt it was imperative to put money forward to secure buildings and keep our children safe,” Schoonmaker said. “I truly believe there’s a need for security in schools with all the tragedy happening in the country.”

Security guard Bob Maturo is preparing to stand guard Thursday for another year at Jerome Harrison Elementary. He’s a retired police officer from Hamden, with 27 years on the job. He and all other armed guards in North Branford are retired police officers and they’re required to conceal their weapons to keep out of sight from the students.

“The same standards that a police officer has with the state of Connecticut, we have to qualify with our weapons once a year,” Maturo said.

He says most parents have been very supportive of having armed security in schools, as a precaution and a deterrent.

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