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January 22. 2013 11:38PM

Nashua schools to boost security

NASHUA - With the support of many residents and school officials, aldermen on Tuesday authorized a bond of up to $2.4 million on Tuesday for major security upgrades at all of the city's schools.

The board unanimously voted in favor of the proposed bond resolution without any discussion.

"Security access is not a luxury issue - it is a safety issue," said former alderman Fred Teeboom. "This should be paid for by the city, as this bond will do, not by the school district."

Before Tuesday's vote on the bond, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau echoed her preference for having the school access control system upgrades funded through the school district's capital reserve account, not a bond.

"That puts real pressure on the capital reserve fund," said Thomas Vaughan, a member of the Nashua Board of Education.

He urged aldermen to support the bond, saying much has been learned about school security from the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last month, when 20 students and six staff members were killed. Lozeau agreed that school security upgrades were needed and should move forward but disagreed about how they should be financed.

Sandra Ziehm, another member of the board of education, said that without the lockdown at Sandy Hook, possibly more children would not have survived the mass shooting. Noting other school projects, Ziehm said the capital reserve account would be about $900,000 in the hole if it had to foot the bill for $2.4 million in security improvements. A similar proposal to update the district's access control system was initially introduced and approved in 2009 but was vetoed by Lozeau at the time because of a school budget deficit topping $3 million.

"I would hate to think that due to a lack of political will, we will see a repeat," of the veto that took place a few years ago, said Pam Jordan, a resident with a child who attends Charlotte Avenue Elementary School.

Although the mayor has seven days to issue a veto, Lozeau said Tuesday night that she has no intention to veto the approved bond.

The bond will cover the costs of numerous recommendations included in the 2009 Comprehensive Security Assessment Report for the Nashua School District, a report conducted by W.L. Bliss Associates Inc. of Dedham, Mass.

The upgrades will enable the installation of alarms and monitors on exterior school doors, locks for all doors, more than 100 cameras with a centralized monitoring system and a buzz-in intercom camera system at all school main entrances. In addition, existing alarm systems will be replaced with 56 panic switches and 123 proximity card readers.

khoughton@newstote.com

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