WESTPORT, Conn. – The Westport Board of Education withdrew its request to fund a $100,000 school security study Tuesday night just before the Representative Town Meeting, the town’s legislative body, was scheduled to vote on it.
“The Finance, Education and Public Safety Committees of the RTM have expressed some concerns and, in the interest of addressing them, the Board of Education has decided to withdraw its request for appropriations totaling $100,000 from tonight's RTM meeting,” board Chairwoman Elaine Whitney said in a email Tuesday night.
Shortly after the mass shooting in Newtown, the school board announced it wanted to hire a firm to analyze security at each of the town’s schools. In January, the board requested $50,000 for the study, and the Board of Finance approved it.
However, after receiving a $100,000 proposal from Kroll Advisory Solutions, a Manhattan-based risk consulting firm, the school board last month asked for an additional $50,000. After grappling over the request, the finance board gave its OK.
Although Kroll was the only company to submit a proposal for the security study, RTM members criticized the school board for not putting the audit out to bid.
The school board will now seek additional bids for “an audit comparable in scope to the Kroll proposal,” evaluate the proposals and return to the RTM with a request “as soon as practicable,” Whitney said.
“Throughout the process, it has been clear that all town and school officials are supportive of making sure that our schools are safe,” Whitney wrote. “We recognize and appreciate the input of the Board of Finance and RTM. We are all on the same team and look forward to engaging the best security firm for the Westport school system.
“In addition, the Town/School Security Task Force consisting of town, police, fire and school officials will continue the process of examining each of our school buildings and identifying areas and procedures that can be improved immediately, in advance of the completion of a security audit. This will allow our schools to benefit from the experience and expertise of all town officials and will advance our mission of providing a safe school community.”