Lewis Mills High School | Photo courtesy Jennifer Cordon Wyzykowski

In a 9 to 0 vote by the Region 10 District Board of Education, students now share the halls with armed security guards this year. Officials from the district have said they believe this will enhance security across the district according to an NBC report.

The board said the location of the schools and the response time to a possible active shooter motivated the change.

In June, news outlets reported guns will be held by security and retired officers in Burlington and Harwinton Schools. It caused local outrage and praise.

Alan Alan Beitman Superintend of Schools said “Region 10 Board of Education unanimously approved several additional steps to enhance safety and security for our students, staff, and visitors. These additional steps were taken following three meetings by the Board of Education in conjunction with recommendations from the Connecticut State Police, the Burlington Police, our two selectmen, board and town attorneys, our insurance carriers and a local expert in law enforcement and tactical responses.”

Consistent with Connecticut State Law, Security staff and police will be re-trained and licensed in the event of an active shooter on any of our school campuses.

On local social media, the reviews were positive.

One member of a Burlington Facebook Group said “I’m so happy I no longer have children in the school system. Not because of armed SROs, but because it’s a time when they are needed. I definitely support the idea.”

Another member said, “This makes me feel better and so glad they are not pushing this on teachers.”

The measures were agreed upon by the Board of Education with input from Connecticut State Police, the Burlington Police Department, selectmen, board and town attorneys, insurance carriers and other law enforcement experts. The measures are being put in place to have staff prepared in the event of an active shooter situation.

“Regional School District 10 is also committed to a positive school climate and increased social and emotional supports for students and families. Both elementary schools have enhanced their social curriculum for grades PreK-4, a guidance counselor has been added to Grade 5 to begin this Fall, and a comprehensive focus on social and emotional well-being that addresses mental health is being planned for our PreK-12 staff. These improvements to our curriculum and learning environments will include staff training, programs for students, and improved connectedness in all of our schools.” According to a June letter for parents by Region 10.

Armed security officers in schools are becoming more prevalent, according to a federal study.

Data from the survey, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, indicates armed officers were present at least once a week in 43 percent of all public schools during the 2015-16 school year, compared with 31 percent of schools a decade before.

Experts are divided on whether putting such officers on school campuses will make the schools safer or frighten children and lead to more arrests. “There needs to be at least one in every school in the country,” said Mo Canady of the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Additional findings from the study show the number of school deaths ranged from approximately 45 to 63 during the past decade, with the higher totals being attributed to major school shootings such as Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech. During the 2015-16 school year, 47 students or staff members were killed during school attacks.

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