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Ridgefield Board Of Education Passes Budget; Concerns Remain

The $83.9 million school budget was approved by the Ridgefield Board of Education Monday night, but members were concerned that the town wouldn't pass a request for more security.
The $83.9 million school budget was approved by the Ridgefield Board of Education Monday night, but members were concerned that the town wouldn't pass a request for more security. Photo Credit: Alissa Smith, file photo

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – An $83.9 million budget was quickly approved Monday night by the Ridgefield School Board, but a discussion about requested funding from the Town of Ridgefield for additional school security was met with concern.

The school budget, passed unanimously, includes a $515,000 request for the town to pay for several additions to school security, including two new School Resource Officers for the middle schools. The board’s request would also fund security guards, a police vehicle for one of the officers and additional mental health staffing.

School board members said Monday they were concerned that neither the board of selectmen nor the board of finance have officially discussed the security request, with some wondering if that meant the town was neglecting a real concern for student safety.

“It will be discussed at some point, there is no avoiding it,” board Vice-Chair Irene Burgess said. It not being discussed was a real concern to Mike Raduazzo, who wondered what would happen to the security plans if the Board of Selectmen were to cut $1 million from the school budget.

Superintendent Deborah Low and Board Chairperson Austin Drukker will present the budget to the Board of Selectmen on Feb. 27.  But in the meanwhile, Low suggested that the school board members brush up on school security facts in order to remind both the selectmen and the district’s parents why the additional security is needed.

“I think once the urgency goes away, people might just go, ‘oh well,’” Low said, referencing the Dec. 14 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Still, without the security cost, the budget shows a 2.6 percent increase from last year, something Board member Russell Katz said, isn’t unreasonable. With the school security costs factored into the budget, there’s a 3.24 percent increase, or roughly $2.6 million more than the 2012-13 school year’s spending plan.

“What we are requesting is a result of something out of our control,” Board member Chris Murray said Monday night.

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