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January 13. 2013 11:22PM

Backer of police in schools sees change since Conn. shooting

PETERBOROUGH - Although a request for a school resource officer has been put to voters before, the recent mass shooting in Connecticut will cause voters to consider campus safety as one of the benefits, petitioner Fran Chapman says.

"Tragedies are predicated on time. Time between somebody trying to break in and somebody trying to stop them. Time is a factor in many, many shootings that we've seen across the county. The quicker you can react the better. Time is critical," Chapman said.

A petition article asking the ConVal School District towns to fund an armed and uniformed school resource officer at the high school is coming before voters again this March.

A proponent for a school resource officer for many years, Peterborough resident Chapman filed the petition article with about 40 signatures, asking voters to fund the position with $80,000.

Last year a petition article proposed by former school board member Craig Hicks failed by a vote of 1,452 to 2,483. The petition article asked voters to approve $67,500 for the position.

Last year the petition article raised issues about safety inside the school, including Peterborough police response to out-of-control students or drug use by students. This year Chapman said that because of the shooting in Newtown, Conn.,voters are more aware of the outside dangers posed to school campuses.

Chapman needed 25 signatures for his petition and quickly got it, he said."I must have talked to 60 people. I got about 40 signatures. But I sensed in all cases a concern, maybe not a fear, but anxiousness. So when people refused me I backed off real quick because now that we've had Newtown, that adds something new to the mix," Chapman said.

Funding the position would cost the district about 18 cents per student, he said. "Money shouldn't be a factor. It should be safety for the school."

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