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Finance panel backs $500K for safety film on school windows

Published 6:18 am, Thursday, June 5, 2014

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  • Board of Finance members listen to a presentation by school officials about a new security measure at town schools during a finance board meeting Wednesday in Town Hall. Photo: Anne M. Amato / westport news
    Board of Finance members listen to a presentation by school officials about a new security measure at town schools during a finance board meeting Wednesday in Town Hall. Photo: Anne M. Amato

 

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A half-million dollars to buy security film to cover all the first-floor windows at the town's eight schools -- to provide extra safety in the event of an attack -- was unanimously approved Wednesday night by the Board of Finance.

The film, which is designed to deter or delay entry into a building by an intruder, actually will cost about $436,000 for materials and labor, said Elio Longo, the school system's director of business operations.

The funding request, proposed by Superintendent of Schools Elliot Landon, was for $500,000, which was the amount approved by the finance panel. Longo said that the additional money represents a "15 percent reserve," in case the installation costs more.

The film, manufactured by 3M, is designed to "give precious time for first responders" to arrive and will improve security at all of the schools, said Board of Education Chairwoman, Elaine Whitney. "It slows them down and lets us get there," said Police Chief Dale Call.

Longo said that while the film isn't "bullet-proof," it does prevent glass "from shattering."

John Pincavage, finance board chairman, asked if the film could delay police and fire personnel from gaining access to a school building in the event of an emergency. Deputy Fire Chief Robert Kepchar said that if necessary, emergency crews could cut through the film.

And what if people "have to get out" of the building, asked Tom Lasersohn, finance board member. Landon said all of the school windows "open out for immediate egress."

Landon said the film "will go from bottom up -- minimally -- to six feet" on all first-floor windows and doors with glass panes.

"What about maintenance?" asked Jennifer Tooker, finance board member. "One major selling point was durability," said Longo. "There is a factory warranty of ten years, but the film will last longer," he said, adding it can be cleaned with a simple cleaning solution.

Longo said the film has been produced for 30 years and "is not a new technology."

BOF member Michael Rea said sometimes a mesh is used for the same purpose, but Longo said the mesh can be "unsightly and cost prohibitive."

Longo said that any of the $500,000 appropriation that isn't used for the film installation will be returned to the general fund.

Funding for security locks at all of the town's schools has already been approved. The school district will use that funding -- $200,000 -- to purchase 1,400 lock sets at a cost of $132 per unit. The plan is to install the security locks and film over the summer.

School security measures are being implemented based on recommendations in a report by the Kroll consulting firm. Kroll's $100,000 survey was done in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed 26 lives in December 2012.