In a decision lauded by Jewish groups and other advocates of non-public schools, the New Jersey will provide $25 per student to all private schools in the state to be spent towards increasing levels of security.
“School security has become a paramount concern in recent years, particularly in light of the many tragedies we’ve witnessed across the country and around the world,” said Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic), the measure’s key supporter. “While we’ve taken many steps to increase security efforts throughout our public schools, much more needs to be done, and we cannot overlook the needs of students in non-public schools in the process.”
The allocation, which totals $3.75 million, was added to the FY2016 state budget and was signed Friday by Governor Christie. It is the first time in 20 years that a line-item was added for non-public schools, which had only been receiving funding for technology, busing and nursing. Public schools in the state receive an average of $75 per student for security needs. This bill is the first effort in New Jersey to fund security in private schools.
Assemblyman Schaer told Hamodia that despite limited funds, as well as the usual opposition to diverting money away from public schools, the measure passed easily with strong bi-partisan support. The governor and legislators had “recognized its importance,” he said.
Other key supporters included Assemblymembers Sean Kean, Patrick Diegnan and Nancy Pinkin, as well as Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Peter Barnes. Agudath Israel, the Orthodox Union, the Jewish Federation and the Catholic Diocese also advocated for the allocation.
“We can never take any available funding for our non-public schools for granted, as was demonstrated through the significantly lower allocations for non-public schools in the original budget proposed by Governor Christie,” said Josh Pruzansky, New Jersey regional director for OU advocacy.
“As tragic events in Israel, France, Newtown and, most recently, Charleston, remind us, we can never underestimate the power of hate to harm the innocent,” said Rabbi Avi Schnall, director of Agudah’s New Jersey Division. “The state of New Jersey currently provides security aid for each child attending a public school; this new non-public [school] allocation sends a statement that all children, regardless of which school they attend, need to be protected from harm.”