Parents showed up en masse to Westover School Thursday night to voice their opinions on Superintendent Winnie Hamilton's proposed budget to Hamilton and the rest of the Stamford Board of Education.
Hamilton presented her budget to the gathered public , with a few slight changes to the plan. Most notable among those changes was the removal of $600,000 for 12 proposed security guard positions to fill the elementary schools.
The decision to use those funds will be held until an audit of the safety and security protocols is completed by the safety task force made of of police officers and other city officials. Instead, Hamilton presented the idea of using $260,000 to instate a panic button system where teachers would each have access to an emergency beacon of sorts.
Parents who took the time to address the BOE countered that plan with the idea that teachers all already own cell phones and can more easily convey the type of dangerous situation occurring to a 911 operator. Additionally, there would be fewer false alarms sticking with cell phones.
One parent offered the suggestion to use however much the board might settle on for safety precautions, whether it be $260,000 or $600,000, for professional development of mental health professionals at the school, an approach to avoiding an issue before one forms.
There were also issues with dissolving an English Language Learning Administrator, and moving around the KT Murphy bilingual program and elsewhere, consolidating the students spread numerous schools.
"We knew there was going to be some opposition to where the students would go, there is often opposition to change," Hamilton said following the meeting. "Sometimes, we have to make the hard decisions. We have to look at the information we've gathered and do what's best for our kids."
Hamilton also took the opportunity to explain the bilingual teacher students learned under would travel with the students when the class moved from one school to another.
"We knew what was going to happen, what we were most likely going to hear about," said BOE member Jerry Pia. "This administration will listen to what we've heard tonight and come back at the next meeting with our recommendations."