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Conn. School Safety Panel Recommends Increased Security Measures

SWAT team members canvas the neighborhood where the Newtown school massacre killer lived with his mother on Dec. 14, 2012. (Photo: CBS 2)

SWAT team members canvas the neighborhood where the Newtown school massacre killer lived with his mother on Dec. 14, 2012. (Photo: CBS 2)

Tragedy In Newtown

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – Connecticut’s Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety issued its recommendations on Wednesday.

The panel reached a fast consensus for a number of proposals, but stopped short of recommending a laundry list of pricey mandates.

Among the recommendations made by the General Assembly subcommittee are using state school construction grants to cover bullet-proof glass, panic button systems and other security measures in schools.

But the panel said the state should not mandate specific staff-to-student ratios of social workers, school psychologists or other mental health professionals.

“Either that’s a local decision or else the state needs to step forward and fund it,” co-chair State Rep. Andrew Fleischmann told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane.

Personnel decisions will instead be left to individual school districts.

“Unless we were to provide actual funding that would be sustainable, we couldn’t require them to actually hire more people,” co-chair State Sen. Toni Boucher told Murnane.

There was also plenty of testimony against arming school staff.

“Nearly 80 percent of our group felt that that was not an appropriate direction to go in and schools themselves did not support that or local police,” Boucher added.

“I don’t want to be carrying a gun and having to worry about being trained in its usage or having to worry about a child grabbing it from me,” Fleischmann said.

Fleischmann says local school officials testified about their tight budgets during the panel’s series of public informational hearings.

The panel said Connecticut’s Department of Education can be a powerful statewide resource for districts seeking the latest and the best safety advice.

The task force was convened to come up with school safety recommendations following the Dec. 14 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that left 20 first graders and six educators dead.

The school had a video intercom system but gunman Adam Lanza shot his way into the building and carried out the massacre before committing suicide as first responders closed in.

The bipartisan panel was just one of many task forces set up in the wake of the shooting rampage.

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