Police Presence Up at Chatham Schools After CT Shooting
Security measures to be re-evaluated throughout district, superintendent says.
As Chatham students return to school for the first day after the Newtown, Conn. shooting, Superintendent Michael LaSusa said they may notice some changes.
"For the balance of this week, we have sought to have a greater police presence in our schools," LaSusa said.
Descriptions of Newtown, Conn. before Friday could be of Chatham: a small, suburban community where neighbors meet at each other's houses and exchange cookies during the holidays,
Population of Newtown, Conn. is 27,560 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census—only about 9,000 more than the combined population of 19,414 in the Chathams. There are 7,431 households in Newtown, compared to 7,125 in Chatham Borough and Chatham Township. School enrollment in Newtown is 5,510, compared to about 4,000 students enrolled in the School District of the Chathams.
It's an "affluent" town, "the kind of neighborhood where Christmas cookies are exchanged and people get together at each other's houses" and where "kids ride sleds on a big hill in the neighborhood" when it snows, according to an article on CNN.com Monday.
In short, it's the kind of town where no one expected a tragedy like Friday's shooting to happen. And now, other school districts across the country who might have thought they were immune are forced to reevaluate their safety procedures.
"Our school district has taken steps to better secure its facilities in recent years, but clearly an event like this alters the prism through which we view the safety of children and staff members," LaSusa said.
Earlier this year, the School District of the Chathams installed new security systems in all the schools, incuding new security cameras and swipe-card access to buildings. The improvements were meant to bring all Chatham schools up to best practices, according to Board President Tom Belding.
"We [have] already begun to re-examine our safety and security protocols in our buildings," LaSusa said, and "will continue [to do so] into the new year."
The district has also provided counseling resources for staff and students in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting.
"I think that we all—parents, educators, citizens—are processing and internalizing one of the most devastating national events of our lifetimes. Most immediately, we are all grieving for the victims and their families," LaSusa said.