REDDING, Conn. – Residents overwhelmingly voted to improve school security and make capital improvements to Redding Elementary School and John Read Middle School in a special meeting attended by nearly 200 residents Wednesday night.
Residents voted to approve 11 individual items, including $58,030 to pay the salaries of two new police officers, including a school resource officer; a total of $534,000 for six separate capital expenditures for the two schools; playground improvements; and lighting upgrades.
“It was very well-attended and so many residents wanted to take part in making important decisions,” First Selectman Natalie Ketcham said. “They were very decisive, and now we can move forward and implement the improvements."
Superintendent of Region 9 schools Bernard Josefsberg said, “A lot of hard work went into this evening, and I’m pleased with the results."
Most of the items were approved by voice vote, but two required a count of blue forms held up by residents. A total of $101,904.32 for police overtime was approved by a 99-39 vote, and $58,030 for the new police officers won in a vote of 87-44.
Residents got an opportunity to question the expenditures. One resident asked whether putting a school resource officer in schools makes kids safer. Police Chief Douglas Fuchs said it does, providing statistics to support his statement.
Another person suggested security alarms instead of officers. But Fuchs said alarms would require a police response, so officers would still need to be hired.
Video surveillance and security for the perimeter of the school buildings, including windows and doors, would be added, Region 9 finance director Peggy Sullivan told the crowd before the $135,000 was approved for school building security upgrades.
The town “has adequate resources and a strong financial position that enables us to fund $135,000 out of town reserves with no tax increases and no impact on the mill rate,” said Bill Alvarez, Redding’s director of finance.