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Seekonk School District Wants $127K for Security

The funding would be for the first phase of a three-phase plan to make the schools safer.

Town Meeting on Feb. 25 will determine whether the Seekonk school district should receive $127,009 to begin a three-phase plan to improve security at the local schools. The school committee voted 4-0 Monday to support the funding.

School Committee Chair Mitch Vieira said the funding would cover the first phase, which is "mainly to allow the police and fire individuals who are in the building to communicate freely and not hit any cellular drop zones or radio drop zones while they are in the building."

Vieira said a private consultant did a security audit of the Seekonk schools shortly after the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook School in Connecticut. The audit combined with discussions among leaders of the school, police and fire departments led to the creation of the three-phase plan. The other phases, for which the school district will ask to be funded at a later time will cover "enhancing our access control and surveillance monitoring" and "safety reconstruction, including some physical structure changes," Vieira told Seekonk Patch after the meeting.

During Town Meeting, school district officials will make a presentation focusing on phase one, but it will also include information on the other phases, Vieira said.

School Committee member Brian Freitas said during the meeting Monday that paying for security measures was a necessary expenditure.

"Our request for money here is by no means a knee-jerk reaction to the unfortunate and tragic events at Sandy Hook late last year," he said. "This is a well-thought-out, well-planned process … to make our schools the safest buildings that they can be."

Interim Superintendent Arlene Bosco wrote in an email to Patch that she has received many questions about this issue since Monday. Because of this, she issued a statement to the media:

The recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a sobering reminder that schools must be vigilant regarding the safety and well-being of students and staff. As with most school systems, it is timely that we review our current safety and security systems and protocols. Seekonk Public Schools has been diligent in this process and this was confirmed by results gleaned from a recent security audit.

Since most security measures span a wide continuum, we have prioritized a list of suggestions to expand our existing security measures. This process will be ongoing and closely coordinated with the police and fire departments.

At the request of the district, the Seekonk School Committee has recommended that the communication capabilities be aligned with recommendations from a recent Communications Audit conducted by both the Seekonk Police Department and the school department. At the town meeting on February 25, 2013, the district will request that monies be allocated for this purpose.

deb of see-attleboro February 02, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Agreed. I flagged the first comment as inappropriate to no avail. Inappropriate is such a subjective thing. Then I was just going to ignore the hate. But once you made your very appropriate response, I could no longer resist. I'm only human, ya know!
Carol Bragg February 02, 2013 at 10:29 PM
Emcee: I always appreciate your comments and the tone in which you offer them. Yes, I agree that it will take three generations to get the job done. Two generations have watched as the problem has grown worse. I recommend nonviolence education based on my own professional experience in Rhode Island. I began serious organizing of nonviolence training in the wake of a spate of fatal shootings in the South Providence-Elmwood and Mt. Hope neighborhoods. We did week-long Youth Leadership Academies for at-risk youth, sponsored nonviolence training for 20 Providence police officers who then taught at-risk middle school students at the Providence Police Academy, oversaw a nonviolence training program at the RI Training School for Youth juvenile facility that the director of DCYF credited with keeping the lid on over-crowded conditions, trained Providence school teachers who incorporated nonviolence education into their curricula, and did a program at the Textron-Chamber of Commerce Academy. We reduced the recidivism rate at the RITSY (saving taxpayers money) and turned around gang members. This training -- as well as subsequent training and the street workers program of the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence -- not only reduced youth violence. It also enabled lower income students to develop real leadership skills. One was appointed to the Providence School Board. But funding was always a problem. We need to make a societal and institutional commitment.
Carol Bragg February 02, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Emcee: I should add that we don't seem to care about cost-effectiveness. It costs far more to incarcerate youth and adults than it would cost to do effective nonviolence education in our schools. The estimate for incarcerating a young person at the RI Training School for Youth in the late 90s was about $80,000 a year -- far in excess of the per pupil cost of public school education.
Emcee of Seekonk February 03, 2013 at 01:08 PM
@Carol... "We need to make a societal and institutional commitment." I agree, but there doesn't seem to be an appetite for that at this time. You seem to stay away from the politics of things, but I believe the tone of a country or any entity is set at the top. Right now there is an awful lot of civil unrest in the country. People are aggitated for any number of reasons: unemployment, taxation, etc. and it shows up primarily in the young. They have energy, albeit misplaced. Rattled and frustrated, they lash out. They kill at will. Life has no value, their own included. I think the concept of a god is a good thing for a population to have. It is an anchor. Because religions generally preach non violence and have family values and respect life, they have a calming effect. The young work off their energy playing sports instead of cruising around the neighborhood to see who they can kill. Non-violence can be taught in the schools and it probably is, but in the crowded, desperate, lawless ghettos of Chicago and Detroit, no one is listening.
Todd Ouellet February 03, 2013 at 11:52 PM
Emcee, I agree. But let us delineate between being non-violent and being a pacifist. One of the reasons we have this bully epidemic in society is we bringing up a generation of people that can to stand up for themselves. The last great generation that brought us through WWII understood that concept. Again maybe we should revisit our history before we move forward.

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