Madison Public School Superitendent Thomas Scarice and Madison Police Chief Jack Drumm plan to meeting with the Madison Board of Finance Wednesday at 7 p.m. at town hall to discuss short-term and long-term measures to ensure the safety and security of Madison school students.
Scarice said he has been working with Drumm since . On Wednesday afternoon, he had nothing but praise for the cooperation of the police department.
"I can't overemphasize my absolute satisfaction with the partnership of the chief of police. This is a man who is an absolute professional and dedicated to this town and his work," Scarice said. "He has brought in folks in his department with incredible experience. They have responded and, in fact, anticipated our requests before we even requested them. The partnership we have is as good as I have ever seen or ever could expect in my 20 years of experience in education."
Parent suggestions being taken into consideration
Scarice said people in town also made many good suggestions during two community meetings, one Monday night and another Tuesday night.
"I think that particularly [Tuesday] night was outstanding," Scarice said. "I received a ton of emails from parents, and we have taken some immediate actions to step up security in the buildings."
Scarice said the Madison Police Department has increased its presence in all public schools, throughout the outside of the campuses and near the entrances, although not inside the school classrooms.
Armed police officers including schools as part of regular patrols
As part of their patrols, police officers are now walking around the school campuses, Scarice said.
When asked how long those patrols on campus might last, Scarice said Board of Education officials, town officials, and the police department have discussed some short- and long-term strategies that will be presented to the Board of Finance tonight, along with potential costs involved.
In addition to patrols, a high priority will be fortifying front entrances and having some sort of permanent professional security presence in all public school buildings.
School buildings locked, people coming in checked
The front doors of the school buildings are currently locked and personnel are checking people coming in and directing them to the office, with instructions to report anything suspicious, he said.
When asked if buzzers are being contemplated, he said there is a general discussion about the fortification of the front doors. "There is technology and systems we can put in place," he said. "Jack has a creative idea about staffing and we'll be looking for a short-term fix until June, and a long-term fix after that."
Scarice said the district will be taking advantage of February vacation to work on some of the fortifications.
District provided resources to help parents talk with children, as appropriate
The district also has sent out a list of resources to parents to help them talk about the tragedy, in any way they felt was appropriate for their children, over the past few days.
"We really wanted to be mindful of the parents' right to communicate with their own children," Scarice said.
Scarice said the elementary schools did not publicly acknowledge the tragedy, but gave teachers direction on how to handle any spontaneous questions or conversations that came up by "redirecting and getting back on topic."
At Brown, Polson, Daniel Hand, a moment of silence
At Brown and Polson middle schools, there was a moment of silence in honor of the victims, Scarice said.
At Daniel Hand High School, there also was a moment of silence, and students who are working to respond in a "proactive, positive way," Scarice said.
He said students at the high school are putting together ideas for letter writing campaigns to improve the spirits of families, first responders, people at the schools and others involved.
Football team coming up with program to help; Two Madison school guidance counselors sent to help Newtown
The football team is also coming up with ways to help Newtown, perhaps by implementing a buddy reading program, a book donation program, in conjunction with the Newtown football team, Scarice said.
Madison Public Schools have also sent two of their counselors, Michelle Catucci from Brown Middle School, and Jean Baker from Daniel Hand High School, to Newtown to help with counseling efforts there.