It didn't start on December 14. But for local businessman Isam Kaoud and his wife Paola, he says the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was the "final push."
"We entered the Bethel School System this past fall," he says. "It was kindergarten, the first year of school for our little guy."
Isam and Paola started looking into the school district and realized, he says, the school could use security improvements. An online entrepreneur, he had started the e-commerce company Web Corner Stores, which sells rug pads. (His family owns the successful Kaoud Rugs chain of brick-and-mortar stores.) And he wanted to give back.
"On Dec 14, I said there's no better time than now," he says.
Isam and Paola reached out to Superintendent Kevin J. Smith and the Board of Education, "to get things done as quick as you like," he says, to bring something to the table that didn't have to go through the process of a vote. The Kaouds decided to donate $50,000 to improve security at Berry Elementary School and Rockwell Elementary School. He says he was able to get it done so quickly by going through the right channels and handling the responsibility and the financial aspect on his own.
"90% of it has been done," he says. "We got closed-circuit security in both elementary schools."
The money replaced "just shy of 100" door handles, he says, making them lockable.
"Some things have things have been well overdue -- like cameras, for example. Now they can see every part of their schools," Kaoud says.
The Board of Education issued a public statement Thursday thanking Kaoud for his contribution as part of the board's "Salute to Excellence." He will be honored at their next meeting, March 21, in Conference Room E at 1 School Street in Bethel.