Defibrillators included in Norwalk BOE budget request; mayor seeks outside funding

NORWALK, Conn. – When the topic of placing automatic external defibrillators (AED’s) in all Norwalk schools came up at Wednesday night’s Mayor’s Night Out, the suggestion – advanced by Common Council member Michelle Maggio (R-District C) was greeted with enthusiasm.

What no one in the room knew was that the potentially life-saving equipment is already included in Superintendent Manny Rivera’s proposed 2014-15 operating budget.

In a comment posted Thursday on NancyOnNorwalk, Board of Education Chairman Mike Lyons wrote, “The budget request approved by the Board of Ed on Tuesday night includes $80,000 for placement of AEDs in all of our schools.”

In answer to a follow-up email, Lyons said the request is part of the operating budget rather than the capital budget.

Maggio, who chairs the council’s Health, Welfare and Public Safety Committee, told the Mayor’s Night Out crowd – about 45 people, including two dozen city officials – that defibrillators are needed in all the schools. Assistant Town Clerk Erin Herring, the staff person assigned to Maggio’s committee, agreed.

“My son has a heart condition and I was actually in Hartford when they made that bill” that stopped just short of requiring schools to have the AED’s. “I went to Hartford several times to speak at congressional hearings about passing it.

“I believe Norwalk is one of the only places in the state that does not have them. And my son, I don’t want him to be the first one to get this going.”

Deputy Superintendent Tony Daddona addressed the issue and said it had been talked about in the past, but financing was an issue.

“We’re looking into it right now and investigating the cost of it,” he said, but gave no indication it was in the current budget request.

Council member John Igneri (D-District E), who arrived late from a special Personnel Committee meeting – as did Maggio – said his panel had just approved a change to the Pay Plan which allowed Mayor Harry Rilling to not accept a scheduled increase in his salary of nearly $24,000 approved last year by the council, and suggested using the money for the defibrillators.

Not necessary, according to Lyons.

According to Norwalk Finance Director Tom Hamilton, earmarking the money for a BOE purchase is not something the city could legally do.

“The Board of Education has complete and sole discretion on the use of the operating budget funds that are provided to them by the city; the city is not permitted to dictate how they spend the $162.3 million in operating funds that were appropriated for education purposes in FY 2013-14,” he wrote in an email. “So, although the BOE could request a special appropriation and indicate that it would be used for a specific purpose, I do not believe that the city actually has the legal right to dictate that they use the money for this particular purpose.”

Hamilton said the board, if it wanted to get money from the current budget, “would need to submit a formal request to me and the mayor. If the mayor were in support of that request and agreed to place it on the agenda, a special appropriation would then need the approval of the BET and the Common Council.”

Rilling indicated Wednesday night that he is strongly in favor of having the equipment in the schools and said there are companies that might be interested in funding such purchases. He followed up on that Thursday.

“I’m exploring a separate avenue to obtain defibs for NPS,” he said in an email. “I had a preliminary meeting today and will follow up with a possible funding source soon. I’m committed to having them placed in all our schools as soon as possible.”


17 responses to “Defibrillators included in Norwalk BOE budget request; mayor seeks outside funding”

  1. EveT

    Is it more important to have defibrillators than librarians in the schools? One person might suffer from lack of a defibrillator, but every single child suffers from lack of a librarian. It looks like this is about fear of a lawsuit in case someone has a cardiac emergency. Nobody is going to win a lawsuit against the school for failure to provide a librarian, so they’re not worried about that.

  2. Mike Lyons

    We restored librarians to the schools in the current year’s budget. Also, enhancing our libraries into Learning Commons is a significant component of Dr. Rivera’s strategic plan and three-year budget.

  3. Casey Smith

    I’m happy to hear this. Now, when the defibrillators go in, I would encourage someone to photograph them and upload the image at
    It’s a global database that records the location of defibrillators and can be accessed via a smart phone. Also take time to watch the short video on the WHY? tab. I never knew the BeeGees’ song Staying Alive could be so important.
    The AEDs at City Hall, the Health Department and Shoprite on Connecticut Avenue are already entered into the system.

  4. Piberman

    Believe City police cars have defribbilators.

  5. dawn

    i know the machine basically walks you through the process, but will staff be trained to use the machines. next thing we will hear is i didn’t know what to do with it.

  6. I can hear the teacher’s now “but I’m not professionally trained for this” because once you engage yourself in CPR/AED you are legally held to staying there until professional help gets there.
    If some teachers won’t go out of their way to help kids with LD’s, I’m sure some won’t go out of their way for AED/CPR, because if they did, then ALL teachers would be Red Cross Certified.

  7. Casey Smith

    From what I remember from the demo at Chelsea Piers, the machine actually talks you through the process.
    And let’s all remember, while the majority of human beings in a school are usually under the age of 18, adults can have heart attacks also.

  8. Diane C2

    @Casey – speaking of Chelsea Piers, perhaps it’s time that Norwalk sponsors aHands For Life “hands-only” CPR training session in Norwalk. The Stamford event last year trained over 5,000 people!

  9. longtime resident

    We don’t have librarians in the elementary schools, we haven’t for decades. There are part time aides with no training at all. They do need a high school diploma, but that’s it.

    They checkout and shelve books, and maybe read a book when classes come in. I don’t want anyone thinking that there are librarians servicing our children,

  10. marjoriem

    There are no defibrillators in the budget that I can find. Where are they?

  11. marjoriem

    NON, where are the defibrillators in the budget? I am assuming you have seen the line item. If not, Mike Lyons?

  12. marjoriem

    Mike Lyons, could you kindly point out where the defibrillators are in the budget?

  13. Manny and I had a communication hiccup. The funding for the AEDs is in THIS year’s budget; Manny made plans to reallocate savings into the AEDs after receiving a proposal a couple of months back from the head of our nursing group, Grace Vetter, to place them in all of our schools. There are considerable savings in the 2013-2014 Superintendant’s budget because the start date of the HR chief will not begin until March 1, 2014 at the earliest. In addition, we will not hire a chief business officer until July 1, 2014 (which will be covered in the 2014/15 operating budget). Manny noted that there is a possibility that the Mayor might get corporate funding for some or all of this AED expense in meetings he has later this week. If that is the case, then we will not need to make a transfer of our own operating budget funds to cover this cost. When I had asked Manny if there was money in the budget for AEDs and he said yes, I assumed he meant the 2014-2015 budget (since that was the topic of the presentation). He thought I meant THIS year’s budget, which is where he actually intended to get the funding. The good thing about the mix-up is that it means we can get the AEDs faster, with current year budget money, instead of having to wait until after July 1 (to get 2014-2015 budget money). Also, as I told Mark, Manny says that we got a new proposal in yesterday that would let us do the AEDs for about $49,000 (rather than the original estimate of $80,000). Sorry about mixing up the budget years, but the AEDs will definitely been purchased and installed soon.

  14. Don’t Panic

    Aren’t those AEDs an ongoing expense? Don’t they have to be serviced regularly? Are we going to run a risk down the line that these corporate sponsors pull out and leave us with under-maintained AEDs?

  15. Maintenance on AEDs is very limited. We purchased one for Sprite Island Club in 2007 and it has needed two battery replacements in 6 years but is otherwise in fine shape.

  16. Follow-up — the Medtronic AED units we’re looking at have 5 year warranties. This is from the maintenance section of the users manual: “The LIFEPAK CR Plus Defibrillator does not require routine maintenance. The defibrillator performs an automatic self-test once a week and every time you turn it on. The electrode indicators briefly flash during the test. If the automatic self-test detects a condition that requires attention, the OK symbol in the
    readiness display will fade and either the CHARGE-PAK symbol, the ATTENTION symbol, or the WRENCH symbol will appear, depending on the type of condition detected.” It recommends battery replacement every two years.

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