August 19, 2022

Letter to the Editor: Armed Guards in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools — More Questions

To the Editor:

Does anyone, parents or voters, know yet how much more in taxes they will be forced to pay for the salaries and insurance coverage of armed guards in Region 18 schools? Region 18, OUR schools.

If this is public knowledge, I cannot find anything.

Nor can I find any information on whether the armed guards will also be present during after-school activities, including sports practices or games. Perhaps I missed something? I would think the liability insurance will be very high, since these guards are employees of Region 18 and due to the real risk of the guards accidentally shooting a parent, teacher, visitor or God forbid, a student.

I, for one, am unwilling to pay taxes for such a dangerous and ineffective initiative. Data, not “feelings” or political beliefs inform my opinion.
Superintendent Ian Neviaser rushed this through, with the help of the Region 18 Board of Education (BOE), despite parent opposition. Of note, there are no armed guards in the community he resides in, and where his own children attended school.
Demand answers from him and the BOE, and our selectmen and woman, Tim Griswold, Matt Ward and Martha Shoemaker. All can be contacted via email at first initial, last name ( no space) @oldlyme-ct.gov.
Sincerely,
Betsy Groth,
Old Lyme.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and child advocate 
Member GAGV ( CT Against Gun Violence)
Retired faculty, Yale School of Nursing

Comments

  1. Anna Reiter says

    Thank you for this letter to the editor Mrs. Groth. I submitted a letter to the Board of Education with four pages of questions regarding the policies surrounding arming guards in our school district and I have not received a response to date. At the meeting where the vote to arm guards was taken, it was clear that this was not a complete plan and the policies hadn’t even been finalized. I do not understand how this was approved when no one was voting on any kind of policy, just an idea. An idea that has no data to support it. The board members agreed at the meeting that this measure won’t stop a shooter or prevent a shooting, it will just mitigate casualties – in other words, our armed guards won’t be preventing the shooting, only reacting and hopefully not killing any others in the process. I wonder if the renovation project will include bullet-proof walls now, as bullets from well-intentioned guns can still go astray. Here is an idea to keep kids safe, revisit the “plan” to arm guards and vote NO this time.

  2. Kim Thompson says

    Thank you for writing this letter, the data simply do not support this addition to the school budget. As a scientist I’m trained to follow the data, the JAMA study everyone has referenced was emailed to the BOE multiple times, and I personally handed them each a printed copy and offered my expert help in interpreting the results of that paper, no one took me up on it. The superintendent referenced “continuous improvement” when asked if gaps had been identified in the security plans, true continuous improvement means following the evidence and implementing changes that are supported by data. This is not a situation where there are two equal sides to an argument, there is strong data that supports that this decreases safety, and no one has been able to present more than anecdotal evidence to support the opposite. This board just made our schools more dangerous.

  3. Thomas D. Gotowka says

    These are very good questions. However, in looking back at the decision, I still feel that it is very unfortunate that the members of our Board of Education had found themselves in the position where they had to consider such measures to keep our children safe in school. We are only about a month before the first day of school, so I am sure that their attention and efforts are now focused on implementation. I don’t know whether there’s an opportunity to backtrack on the decision.
    Christina and I had concerns about the training of the guards, and we posed them to Selectwoman and BOE member Martha Shoemaker, who assured us that these should be individuals who already had training in the use of firearms in their prior careers; — e.g., former / retired CT State Policemen and women.
    Let’s face it, the primary issue remains the easy and poorly controlled access to weapons. I’ve noticed that the Senate hopefuls for the GOP primary have yet to mention their support for gun control in their prime-time commercials; or at least the ones that I’ve seen. I guess that the “Dems & Libs” still own the issue.

  4. Charlotte Scot says

    It’s a boondoggle! Period.

  5. Rita MacWilliam says

    Thank you for this letter. Letters posted in this publication before the vote were very much in opposition to this proposal. It sickens me to think students will daily see armed guards walking their halls. The financial piece is a big one. Voting down budgets may be the only way we can voice opposition to this action.

  6. Bill Fitzgerald says

    The actions of the school board and the superintendent make “sense” once we realize and accept two things:

    1. The board and the superintendent don’t care what people in the town think, and they are largely unaccountable for their apathy toward town opinion. They use unreliable survey instruments to collect anecdotes that support decisions they have already made.

    2. Claims of “bipartisanship” or a “nonpartisan atmosphere” on the school board are disingenuous, and are designed to silence dissent and avoid difficult but necessary conversations.

    This school district could be amazing; instead, it’s a district filled with great teachers who are routinely hamstrung by mediocre leadership.

    The botched process and decision on putting armed guards in schools is just one example. The botched process and decision on spending millions on a fake grass field in the middle of a pandemic is another. The failure of the board and the superintendent to commit to better air quality as part of a multilayered Covid mitigation strategy in December 2021 is another.

    The list goes on, and no one is willing to hold the board or the superintendent accountable.

  7. Maura Courtney says

    I thought we were an educated town

  8. Thomas D. Gotowka says

    I thought that I had seen something on the anticipated cost, but just had the opportunity to track it down. This is from the June 16th “New London Day”:
    “Neviaser presented the board with cost estimates. Arming the guards would add $43,000 to $48,000 to the annual security costs, plus the one-time estimated cost of $8,900 to purchase the firearms. Other costs include $30,000 to $35,000 in additional salary compensation per year, $7,500 for added insurance and $1,500 for supplies.”

  9. Betsy Groth says

    Daily armed security for a year?
    $43, 000 per year?
    I do not believe this figure.
    Imagine. Region 18 Schools purchasing GUNS.
    It gives me chills.

  10. Tina West says

    Didn’t the District fairly recently spend part of the money for rehabilitation, especially of the high school, to control access to the buildings to increase safety? Why isn’t this enough?

    Tina West