Derby parents, teachers discuss ways to keep students out of harm’s way

DERBY, Conn. (WTNH)–Second grader Ryan Lebel described the type of security drills he goes through as an elementary school student.

“We usually hide, and a teacher will come and knock on the door, and we don’t make a sound,” Ryan said.

Derby‘s schools superintendent said that two in every 10 fire drills has been turned into practice for a lockdown. It’s something his third grade brother Jake is used to.

Related: Connecticut legislators to attend gun control meeting with President Trump

“I think it is just a regular thing, that you have to know about, but not worry about,” Jake said.

He leaves the worry to his mother.

“If I’m the person in charge, am I going to save some funds for full-time security personnel, I certainly am,” Candace Lebel said.

Candace is trying. She is on the school safety committee, looking at new cost-effective ways to keep their children safe.

“It’s absolutely insane that money that could be spent hiring a math tutor, or an extra para professional, or to make smaller class sizes has to go for security,” she said.

Related: Governors divided on path forward on school safety

Right now the money is available for security, but for how long? With state budget cuts and talks of more cuts, Matthew Conway, the school superintendent, worries his grants may go away.

“We have received approximately $467,000 over the past four years, to upgrade all four of our schools,” he said.

Related: UConn posthumously admits Parkland shooting victim

Security is expensive–from personnel to the electronics like cameras and card swipes and door buzzers. A cheaper option would be to arm teachers inside the school. News 8 spoke to the Connecticut Education Association about it, and they said absolutely not. They took a survey after Sandy Hook they say 85% of their teachers do not want to carry guns in the classroom.

Lisa Cordova is a kindergarten teacher. She believes arming teachers is going in the wrong direction.

“I absolutely would not feel safe if other teachers are carrying guns in the classroom, because that is not the answer to the problem that we have at this point,” Cordova said.

There were two lawmakers at the meeting tonight. SistersThemis Klarides, and Nicole Klarides-Ditria, both Republicans. They say the security money is equally as important as education money because between Sandy Hook and Parkland, Florida, students have to feel at ease all sitting at their desk.

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