First of six campus monitors hired almost two months after RTM approval
As of May 13, only one campus monitor had been hired for Middlesex.
The process has taken significantly longer than the originally anticipated two- to three-week time line that was projected at the March 21 meeting. The Board of Education needed to post the job position and, by law, the post needed to "sit for a while," according to Superintendent Stephen Falcone.
"We are doing thorough interviews and screenings of all the candidates," said Falcone, "and then we need to do our reference checks and the like and want to make sure that we're hiring the right person."
Chris Hebert was hired as the campus monitor at Middlesex Middle School, Falcone said. He has a background in security and a background in schools.
The Board of Education is in the process of hiring the remaining five campus monitors for Tokeneke, Royle, Hindley, Ox Ridge and Holmes elementary schools. The campus monitors at the elementary schools will all be implemented at the same time.
"We think we're pretty close," Falcone said.
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Any unused funds from the appropriated $75,000 will be returned to the town, Falcone said. The RTM approved the fiscal year 2013-14 school budget on Monday, May 13. Part of that $83 million budget is $156,000 for campus monitors.
In the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, that left 26 dead, including 20 children, schools across Connecticut, including Darien took a serious look at their security measures. Within days of the attack, the district had conducted a review of their security measures at all of the schools and to highlight the weaknesses that needed improvements.
Also approved by the RTM on March 21 was $269,000 for technical and hardware security updates for the schools, including cameras within the schools and PA systems around the schools.
It is the hope of the district administrators that the campus monitors become ingrained within the schools they are assigned to.
Four monitors at the high school have been in place for years and, during the security proposals, Falcone spoke often of their importance and that they are in place to spot the first sign of an issue within a school.
During the March RTM meeting, Falcone told the RTM that it's not just the campus monitors who are in charge of ensuring a safe environment in the schools but that responsibilities fall upon the shoulders of all of the teachers and other staff.
"This is our house," Falcone said.
Falcone believes Hebert is an "excellent" addition to the district.
"He's getting the lay of the land and he's just very alert and taking initiative," Falcone said of Hebert's first day at Middlesex Middle School.