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Newtown residents weigh in on future of Sandy Hook Elementary

Julio Cortez / AP

This aerial photo shows Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the site of the Dec. 14 shooting that left 20 children and six staffers dead. As residents weigh in on the future of the building, students are attending school at a different facility.

Town leaders in Newtown, Conn., continue to hear from residents about what should become of the building where 20 children and six educators lost their lives in a mass shooting in December.

More than 100 people gathered inside Newtown High School on Friday for the second public hearing on the topic. Some in the crowd voiced their opinions on what they believe should happen to the Sandy Hook Elementary School building. Others watched and listened.

"I think that building should be a memorial. I don't think it should ever be a school again," said Josie Schmidt, a Newtown resident who is also a retired school teacher.

"I know what happened there. I see it. You cannot ask anyone to go back in there," said Todd Keeping, a Newtown resident and Monroe police officer who was at the school in the days after the tragedy.

Besides hearing from the public, town officials are also meeting privately with families of the victims and survivors. They're also meeting with teachers and staff.

"The decision-makers should be the families. I think we all are entitled to our opinions, but I think what they say should go," said Taylor Ansbro of Newtown.

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One staff member, library clerk Mary Ann Jacob, spoke during the meeting and said she was inside the school when the shooting happened. "I'll be there wherever it is, because it's important to me to help the rest of the children in this community heal," Jacob said.

A recommendation on what to do with the building could come by spring, town officials said.

"We are Sandy Hook School and we choose love," said Jacob, to heavy applause from the audience.

For now, Sandy Hook children are learning at the former Chalk Hill school in Monroe, Conn., where they're expected to remain through the next school year, according to First Selectman Patricia Llodra.

As they weigh options for the future, splitting the children up into different schools around Newtown is not one that's under consideration, said Llodra and other officials.

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