Closing the Barn Door

No amount of words, however lofty or eloquent, can properly eulogize the tragic loss of life that took place in Newtown, Conn., last month. The tragedy will forever be a stain upon that otherwise quiet and humble community; a terrible memory that can never be erased.

And while politicians may deliberate and pontificators may pontificate about how to prevent another such tragedy, parents only desire one thing: To feel assured their children are in good hands when they walk through those schoolhouse doors.

The Fairfield County School Board may not have the best reputation over the last 10 or 20 years for getting most things right. There’s a whole laundry list of former superintendents and interim superintendents who will tell you the same thing. But there is a new mood, a new aura about the current School Board and their leadership, indicating that much of that appears to have changed in recent months. How well they stay the course remains to be seen, but one thing that can be said of them is that they have, in the last two years, made a serious effort to enhance and improve the safety and security of Fairfield County Schools.

Beginning in late 2010, the Board’s Safety Committee began a series of recommendations, all of which were eventually adopted by the full Board. Among them, upgrades to the District’s aging fleet of surveillance cameras. The renewed use of these improved cameras has helped solve at least one in-house theft and at least one case of theft by an outside party in the last year. The new key system recommended by the Committee has helped make entry into schools by unauthorized individuals much more difficult,

while saving the District thousands of dollars in re-keying costs, which, in the past, had been incurred every time an employee separated from the District.

Are schools – or anywhere else, for that matter – tragedy proof? No. And they never will be. But they are still one of the safest places children can be at any given time, in spite of the recent Newtown incident. The Fairfield County School District did not wait for a similar tragedy to strike before turning its attention to school security, and for that the School Board should be commended.