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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools will arm security officers, school board decides

Lyme-Old Lyme schools board of education meeting gun safety in schools to fight active shooters
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
From left, Lyme-Old Lyme schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser and Board of Education members Steven Wilson and Martha Shoemaker talk before voting June 15, 2022, on whether to approve placing armed security officers in Lyme-Old Lyme schools. Shoemaker, who voted against the measure, asked for more time before voting. “We need to spend more time,” she said. “Let’s take time to protect our kids.”

Students at Lyme-Old Lyme schools this fall will see armed school security officers on their campuses.

The Board of Education on Wednesday night approved the plan at a special meeting.

The vote came as other school districts across Connecticut were also considering or deciding on armed officers. The districts’ actions come just weeks after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed.

District officials say arming school officers is a part of their ongoing security measures. The effort will cost between $43,000 and $48,000 annually. The district will also spend $8,900 for a one-time purchase of guns and protective gear.

Superintendent Ian Neviaser said adding armed guards will help with response times in an emergency.

No matter how close the police station is or how close the police officer is, unless they’re parked in the parking lot they’re not going to be able to respond in time to potentially save lives,” he said. That’s why we’re recommending this.”

Several parents spoke before the meeting, expressing concerns about giving guns to security officers.

Kim Thompson, a parent of a student at Lyme School, says she’s frustrated that the board isn’t taking more time to review the options.

I just don’t think that this is the solution,” she said. “I would hope that a board that was elected to protect our education system would be able to take a more academic approach to making decisions, rather than operating on their gut and emotional reaction to things.”

Lyme-Old Lyme School board member Martha Shoemaker asked for more time before voting.

“We need to spend more time,” she said. “Let’s take time to protect our kids.”

School board member Laura Dean-Frazier said she supported arming officers.

“This has been going on for a long time,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a knee-jerk reaction. I think it’s something I’ve been talking about and thinking about and witnessing and absorbing since Sandy Hook.”

Two school board members voted against the proposal.

Video: Watch the meeting

Special Board of Education Meeting Board of Education Conference Room at Center School

Catherine is the Host of Connecticut Public’s morning talk show and podcast, Where We Live. Catherine and the WWL team focus on going beyond the headlines to bring in meaningful conversations that put Connecticut in context.

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