Update: Sandy Hook Students to Return to School After the Holidays

Different factors combined to make it possible for Sandy Hook Elementary School to have a building to move into following the tragedy there last week.

Update 2:42 p.m.

CNN is reporting that Sandy Hook students will not return to school until after the holidays.

The cable network read a letter written by Newtown's Superintendent of Schools stating that "students need to feel comfortable after this trauma in this new place." The Superintendent also stated that teachers may be calling Sandy Hook parents to visit Chalk Hill this week so that they could get acquainted with the new building.

Update 11:30 a.m.

Children taking the bus to school in Newtown Tuesday morning waved to huddled groups of press members stationed across the street.

One couple walking their daughter to school positioned themselves on either side of the girl, each holding a hand.

On this the first day of school since Friday’s horrific shooting in Newtown, police can be seen at Newtown Middle School, the Hawley School, an elementary school, and administrative buildings.

The mood at the Board of Education building on this dreary, overcast morning is somber, as administrators and teachers walk about. A special area in the administrative buildings has been designated for Sandy Hook teachers, according to signs posted on the walls.

Police from Greenwich are aiding in the effort to bolster the presence. Police on scene declined to comment on the extra safety measures.

At Hawley, each car that pulls into the school is being checked by a police officer.

Original Story

Months of prolonged debate on the future of the Chalk Hill building, and even Hurricane Sandy, combined for the perfect storm that made it possible for Monroe to offer Sandy Hook Elementary School a building to use after the horrific shooting that claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 children, in Newtown.

At an emergency Town Council meeting at Monroe Town Hall Monday night to vote on a resolution allowing Sandy Hook School to use the building, an emotional First Selectman Steve Vavrek expressed his belief that a higher power was at work.

"Those of us in Monroe know how long it took to figure out what to do with Chalk Hill," he said. "We planned and planned — and it wasn't our plan. It was God's plan."

The Town Council unanimously approved the resolution.

The State of Connecticut is still in a state of emergency from Hurricane Sandy, which allowed Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to issue an executive order to speed up approval of an agreement between Monroe and Newtown allowing Sandy Hook Elementary into Chalk Hill as soon as possible.

The executive order waived the legislative requirement for two public notices and a public hearing on the agreement which would have dragged out the process for another two to three weeks.

Just before the vote, Town Council Chairwoman Enid Lipeles said, "This is the worst thing that happened in America. We don't want to discuss it. We want to approve it, so you can get started."

Once the first selectman signs and executes the resolution, Town Attorney Jack Fracassini said it will be effective immediately and be good through June of 2013.

Fracassini worked on the agreement with Newtown Town Attorney David Grogins and Vavrek said there was assistance from Congressman Jim Himes' office. According to the agreement, Newtown will pay for any costs to the town of Monroe and themselves for its use of the building.

'Love and Compassion'

Prior to the vote, Town Councilman J.P. Sredzinski noted how rare it is for the council to hold emergency meetings, adding this is his first in seven years on the council.

"Although our meeting results from unspeakable tragedy, tonight's meeting serves only one purpose ... to show love and compassion for our fellow neighbors," Sredzinski said. "In a time when so many in our community and around the world are feeling helpless for those precious lives lost, we in Monroe have an opportunity to help our neighboring town. And it is my hope and prayer that we begin what will be a long, long healing process from this point forward.

Sredzinski thanked Vavrek, Newtown First Selectwoman Pat Llodra, State Rep. DebraLee Hovey (R-112th) — who attended the meeting, Lipeles, the boards of education from both towns and Monroe Supt. of Schools James Agostine for working together to make everything possible.

"As we all know, there is much to be proud of in our fine community, but I can say without hesitation: I have never been as proud of my town of Monroe as I am today," Sredzinski said. "To provide a school home for all those children who have been through more than any human being should have to endure, and to welcome them with open arms is something positive we can take from this senseless tragedy. Madam chair I am in full support of the motion."

How it Happened

Vavrek said he texted Newtown First Selectwoman Pat Llodra on Friday saying, "We have a building for you whenever you want to look at it."

The next day, Monroe officials met at Chalk Hill with representatives from Newtown to assess the building and Newtown's needs. Then at 7 a.m. on Sunday, both town attorneys met to work on an agreement.

"I never remember something working so quickly," Vavrek said.

hal December 18, 2012 at 05:41 AM
Good for you, Monroe! What a great thing to do for those children and parents from Newtown. You should be proud. Hal Hauser, Easton, CT
Melissa Rodrigues December 18, 2012 at 10:07 AM
So proud to live in Monroe. A community that cares. Welcome sandy hook elementary with love and open arms
Big Boy December 18, 2012 at 10:55 AM
Now that they have a building for these children, Sandy Hook should demolish their current elementary school and put up a memorial a beautiful memorial site in its place, and rebuild a new elementary school on a different site.
Jeanne Malgioglio December 18, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Welcome Sandy Hook. I am so glad we could help. Thank you Steve Vavrek for jumping through hoops to get this done. I am so proud of my town!
Tara Norado December 18, 2012 at 12:00 PM
This is the best possible way to help Newtown. Newtown is a very special place, magical full of warm loving people. My boys played for Newtown Soccer Club for years when our Monroe group dissolved. The Newtown Club and families took us in as their own for years. it was the most joyful and wonderful experience for all of us. They are truly a wonderful, special breed. Many of those Newtown boys had attended Sandy Hook Elementary during their elementary years. To be able to help out our Newtown brothers and sisters is a blessing.
Monica Niven December 18, 2012 at 01:38 PM
What an amazing example of good citizenship and genuine care and concern for neighbors. These officials put aside all concerns beyond solving a problem in an expedient, caring and humane way. Wow. I wish a video of that meeting could be shown to our Congress. This is how Americans really accomplish the important tasks. This is such an inspiring story in the midst of this absolutely devastating tragedy. We're all grieving with you, Newtown.
Heather December 18, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I lived in Newtown for 22 years and last year moved to Monroe. I am utterly heartbroken at what happend. I am in so much pain. The people in Monroe are so nice and I am proud to live among such a great group of people.
Karl December 18, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Is there a way to volunteer to help get Chalk Hill ready?
Vera Karger December 18, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Big Boy ~ In Otober 2006 this is what the Amish did when their schoolhouse tragedy occurred. See this from Wikipedia: "On 2 October 2006, a shooting occurred at the West Nickel Mines School, an Amish one-room schoolhouse in the Old Order Amish community of Nickel Mines, a village in Bart Township of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.[1][2][3] Gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV took hostages and shot ten girls (aged 6–13), killing five, before committing suicide in the schoolhouse.[1][2][3][4] The emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation in the response of the Amish community was widely discussed in the national media. The West Nickel Mines School was torn down, and a new one-room schoolhouse, the New Hope School, was built at another location."
Shannon Walsh December 18, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Beautiful story! Please make sure that there are extra counselors and psychologists on hand for staff and students not temporarily but for the long haul. These kids have to feel safe and learn to understand something that is impossible for even adults to understand. I wish there as more I could do....
Bobbie December 18, 2012 at 04:33 PM
I have lived in Monroe since 1961 and hope to remain in my home 'til the end of my earth time. This is a town of generosity which outweighs the negativity that is consistent with any Monroe-sized town in America. My major concern no matter the school location for any child is that we devote a precious amount of time - both within and without the educational system - to the recognition of mental disorders and character abnormalities. This takes precedence over gun control and security issues. One child can be incubating an attitude drastically foreign to "the norm." How many lives thruout the United States could have been saved if parents, educators and physicians had invested in a controlled venue of procedures to better investigate the basis of our being. I most certainly believe that this is a priority for our tax dollars as many families recognize that their child requires professional assistance which they can neither provide nor afford. As we have tragically witnessed, if we could enter and reconstruct the time-consuming thought processing of one child, we could forego the incessant tragedies which have become the hell in our lives. We require facilities - not asylums - where children can be treated for a variety of abnormalities. They are not to be shunned or shamed. It is our sin if we continue to mask the potential for murder. Truly, this is our wake-up call. I have to believe that as a country, we will not replicate Rip Van Winkle.
Joseph Burden December 18, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Great to see it worked out so quickly. Kudos to the First Selectman and for reaching out to our neighbors. Proud to be a resident of Monroe. We welcome the children of Newtown. In this time of healing we open our hearts to you. In our thoughts and prayers...
Christine E. December 18, 2012 at 05:09 PM
I was wondering that, too! I would love to help if there's anything that needs to be done.
Dasher December 18, 2012 at 05:16 PM
What a nice bit of sunshine during this dark time ! I have a renewed sense of pride in my hometown and in humans in general. I know myself and many many others would be more than willing to run over there and lend a hand in whatever they need help with :)
Kurt Huber December 18, 2012 at 06:01 PM
I am very glad Sandy Hook can use Chalk Hill. The first selectman has said "The BoE of Newtown and their First Selectman is requesting that any and all volunteer efforts wait until they know what will or will not be brought from the Sandy Hook School....We need to respect their wishes. If you have any ideas please feel free to send them to me at svavrek@monroect.org. Please do not organize any efforts as again we must abide by the needs and desires of the Residence of Newtown. PLEASE DO NOT go to the school and ask to help as there is a very well orchestrated professional effort between federal, state and local custodians making true miracles happen."
JF December 18, 2012 at 07:04 PM
I'm proud to live in Monroe. This is a great town to raise children in. I know, I went to school here and now raise my kids here!! I'm glad we are able to offer up the school to a town much in need. I pray every day for the families, victims, first responders and just everyone (including my family that lives in Newtown) that time will heal all wounds. Don't ever forget but hopefully we can learn from this horrible tragedy!!! God bless you Newtown!
DawnV December 18, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Thank God, Thank Monroe!! Those kids should never have to go back there!
Scott December 18, 2012 at 08:19 PM
So very proud of my hometown. I have nothing but fond memories of my time as a student at Chalk Hill.
Patrick Terrell December 18, 2012 at 11:51 PM
What can we do to help and can we be at Chalk Hill on their first day to welcome the kids to their new home?
Donna Barnaby December 19, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Donna So proud to live in Monroe !!! Welcome Sandy Hook parents and students !!!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something