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Westport Finance Board Grapples With School Security Study

WESTPORT, Conn. – A request by Westport school officials for an additional $50,000 to hire a professional firm to conduct a school security audit was shelved by the Board of Finance until the town’s emergency management officials can get involved in the process.

After the Sandy Hook tragedy in December , the finance board last month approved the Board of Education’s request for $50,000 to pay for a security audit . However, school officials are looking to hire Kroll Advisory Solutions, a Manhattan-based risk consulting firm that is charging $100,000.

“There is absolutely no question from all of my research, all of my discussions, that Kroll is the leading risk consulting company in the world,” Superintendent Elliott Landon said at Wednesday night’s Board of Finance meeting.

“If we want the best for our kids academically, emotionally, socially — this community provides all of the services that make that possible. On that basis, I felt when it comes to security, they deserve no less,” he added.

Although the finance board supports enhancing school security, several members took issue with the fact that the police department was not involved in the decision-making process.

Board of Finance Chairman Avi Kaner asked Police Chief Dale Call whether his input or the police department’s input was sought in drafting the request for proposals for the audit, to which Call said “no.”

“I would have expected a committee of police, fire, school personnel and principals to sit down together after Newtown and take a look at the audit that was done in 2006, go through it line by line and ask what were recommendations were made, what did we do, what didn’t we do, and then come up with a plan going forward,” Kaner said.

Board member Tom Lasersohn agreed with Kaner, saying he felt it was necessary for the town’s first responders, including Call and Fire Chief Andrew Kingsbury, to be involved in designing the scope of the study.

Another issue board members had is that Kroll was the only firm that responded to the school district’s request for proposals. Board member Brian Stern says the school district should seek more proposals.

The board did not vote to approve the request. Instead, it will reconsider the request at its meeting next Wednesday.

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