By BILL LEUKHARDT, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
9:57 PM EST, January 15, 2013
School security will be improved, but no system can prevent a crazed person determined to harm people, as Adam Lanza did Dec. 14 in a Newtown school where he murdered 20 students and six educators, then killed himself.
That was the message from town officials Tuesday night at a public forum on school security.
Parents and officials who spoke at the meeting agreed that school security procedures are good, but need review to improve safety on school property. About 60 people attended the 90-minute session at Berlin High School, the first of what Superintendent David Erwin said would be a series of public discussions on the issue.
Robert Peters, a retired town police sergeant and former mayor, said a suggestion that teachers be armed is not the answer. He said the issues raised by the killings are complex, include gun control and mental health screening, and must be addressed nationally through continuing debate.
He said the conversations sparked by the Newtown shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School must be long-term and honest and, he said, keep in mind that schools must be safe and also be welcoming places where children go to learn and have fun.
Parents asked about making school entranceways more secure by using bulletproof glass and making school interiors less visible to intruders by somehow masking windows.
George Synott, a retired Berlin High principal serving on the school board, said the national discussion on school violence that began in 1999 after the mass murder at Columbine High School in Colorado resulted in improved security, but the issue faded over the years.
He said school safety, mental health and voilence prevention are issues that must be constantly discussed and evaluated, in the same way as academic results.
School board Chairman Gary Brochu said a districtwide review of security was done a decade ago after the Columbine murders and it's wise to have another study to see where improvements can be made.
School officials promised to allow residents to participate in any discussions of school safety.
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