Decision to add additional SROs to Windsor Locks schools approved

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 7:25 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2023 at 7:08 AM EDT
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WINDSOR LOCKS, CT (WFSB) - After significant back and forth between the finance committee, the school’s superintendent, and the police chief, Windsor Locks will have two more SROs at the start of next school year and another one starting mid-way in January.

The decision was supposed to be made Tuesday night, but the town’s finance committee couldn’t agree on funding.

Currently, there is only one school resource officer at Windsor Locks High School.

The superintendent’s proposal was to have three more school resource officers, so there would be a presence at all four public schools.

After two meetings that totaled more than 5 hours of deliberation, the Windsor Locks finance committee approved $200,000 to fund the three additional SRO positions.

“I’m really glad that it was passed. Everything is about kids’ academics and their safety when they are not at home and in a place where we are hoping they can be safe,” said Nicole Saavedra, a Windsor Locks parent.

The original proposal involved the Board of Education splitting the cost of the positions with the police department.

Now, that responsibility rests solely on the board.

“I think it is something that we know we need. We know that it is prevalent in many districts, and we might be late to the drawing board, but you can’t jeopardize and put a price tag on school and staff safety, so I’m thrilled,” said Shawn Parkhurst, Windsor Locks Schools superintendent.

The Windsor Locks Police Chief Eric Osanitsch said the SRO positions will be assigned to officers who were already on the force.

They will be announced before the start of the new school year.

Previous coverage follows:

A school shooting in Nashville reignited the debate over school resource officers (SROs).

Some parents supported SROs while others didn’t want armed officers inside schools.

In Windsor Locks, there was a push to add more SROs in schools. The district only had one.

But many in town said they wanted to see security stepped up, especially in the wake of the Nashville school shooting that left three children and three adults dead.

“It’s scary dropping your kids off every day and not knowing what might happen,” said Natalie Lafreniere, a Suffield parent. “It’s scary I mean I drop her off every day and my son leaves for the bus every morning and I tell them I love them and I hope it’s not the last time I see them.”

Lafreniere said she is a mother of two children and thought armed officers should be inside schools.

“Yeah I do. Just patrolling around the building, they can just shoot the door down and get in. I would feel safer if there were armed officers around,” she said.

The Windsor Locks Board of Education looked into adding three more SROs to schools.

“I’m a fan of SRO officers. I have a kid in the system. I have another one going in the system. And I don’t know how I’m going to get up in the morning if my daughter’s not there,” said Republican First Selectman Paul Harrington of Windsor Locks.

In a Facebook post, the Windsor Locks Police Department said:

“I think at the end of the day, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. I think trained professionals that want to carry a firearm in school should be able to,” said Amanda Marquez, an Enfield parent.

Marquez said safety concerns are one of the many reasons why she chose to home school her three children.

“I don’t have to worry about putting my kids on a school bus and wondering if they’re coming home at the end of the day. I know that they’re safe when they’re home and I feel terrible that parents have to have that worry, in addition to all the other things we have to worry about as parents all day long,” Marquez said.

The Windsor Locks Board of Education met Tuesday night to try to get three SROs added back into the budget. Unfortunately, the near three hour meeting ended without a decision.

Several parents attended Tuesday’s meeting to show their support for adding SROS.

“The fact we are even debating where to find money for an SRO versus just saying yes to it off the bat is just out of this world to me,” said Lauren Daly a Windsor Locks parent.

Adding three more SROS would result in an increase of $185,000, a cost split between the Board of Education and the police department.

“I think the decision for the SRO was the board of finance trying to figure out where the money was going to come from. I didn’t hear them say were not going to fund it what I heard them say was let’s back into that number,” said superintendent Shawn Parkhurst.

The finance committee will meet with the board Wednesday morning to hammer out a final number.

The decision to add additional SROs will be made at Wednesday’s public finance meeting.