Ridgefield residents approve Education Board's request for school safety improvements

RIDGEFIELD -- In a unanimous vote at Wednesday's Special Town Meeting, residents approved about $230,000 in school safety improvements at Ridgefield schools. 

The safety improvements, which total $229,420, pertain to the installation of bollards — anti-vehicle intrusion posts that will be installed in front of all the schools to protect the front entrances from any vehicle intrusion.

"There's four remaining schools that were on the capital project - Scotts Ridge (Elementary), the high school, and Farmingville and Branchville (Elementary)," said Susie Da Silva, school superintendent. 

At a recent Selectman meeting, Da Silva said, "Security's incredibly important for all of our schools. These are two projects that, due to COVID, due to supply shortages, due to costs, we were not able to complete them. We do have surplus in our budget from the 2021-2022 fiscal year, so our goal was to be able to use that money — to support the completion of these two projects."

She said the delay in the installation was due to the pandemic, supply shortages and cost increases.

Additionally, with the approved funding, vestibules will be added to Scotland and Farmingville Elementary Schools. The vestibules will provide a second set of doors and additional security at the schools.

A vestibule is a holding space before one enters a building.

"It's like a second set of doors almost. You ring the bell, you go into another space. Then from there, you get buzzed in twice," she said. "It's like a two layer entryway."

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi said the bollards and vestibules are an asset when it comes to added school security.

"It's unpredictable, you don't know," he said. "And we want to take every necessary precaution and security to protect our schools. This is relatively inexpensive and something that should be done."

The school security projects previously received Board of Selectmen and Board of Finance approval. 

The installation of the bollards and vestibules is expected to begin as soon as possible, Da Silva said.