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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.

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 !!!

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