United States Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke to an auditorium of students at the Classical Magnet School in Hartford Friday afternoon, engaging the youth in a town hall meeting on school safety and education reform.

At the meeting, Duncan took the opportunity to announce that a 1.3 million dollar grant will be allocated to the Newtown schools, funds which he says can be used for training of staff and counseling necessary in light of the events at Sandy Hook School last December.

Duncan told concerned students that specific decisions on school safety, such as placing more armed guards within the schools, are options which must be decided upon within individual districts. Governor Dannel Malloy, who answered questions alongside Duncan, responded by adding that the state has continued to pursue certain regulations on guns that would lessen the likelihood of another Newtown occurring.

Students also took the opportunity to discuss their concerns over the future of education.

In light of Hartford’s large high school drop out rates, both Duncan and Malloy stressed the importance of graduating and pursing post-secondary education and avoiding the school to prison pipeline.

“If you drop out of high school there are basically no good jobs out there for  you anymore, and some form of higher education…that has to be the goal for each and every one of you,” Duncan said.

Malloy also encouraged students to find success by taking advantage of the good foundations provided to them. Malloy says that education and employment play a key role in improving Connecticut.

“If we get those two things right, then your potential will play itself out to make Connecticut a stronger and better place in which to live, to raise your children, to be educated in, and to work,” Malloy said.

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