A bill that would double funding for private schools security unanimously passed the state senate’s budget committee, bringing it one step closer to becoming law.
“While per-pupil funding for private school security increased from FY2017 to FY2018, the FY2019 budget did not provide the necessary increase,” said Senator Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic), one of the bill’s sponsors. “This supplemental appropriation will ensure that private schools have the funding they need to keep students in New Jersey safe.”
Since 2015, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic) created a line item in the yearly budget for security funding for private schools which has been steadily increased since then.
In the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting, Assemblyman Schaer and colleagues in the Senate introduced a bill that would deliver increased funding through a supplemental allotment of $11.3 million outside of the regular budget framework.
If passed at this amount, it will raise the per student spending to $150 from the present $75, roughly equal to the average spent on public school pupils.
The funding would come from the general fund and go to the Department of Education for security services, equipment and technology at private schools.
Other co-sponsors are Democratic Senators Paul Sarlo (Bergen/Passaic) and Vin Gopal (Monmouth).
The Agudath Israel of America has made the bill a high lobbying priority for this year’s legislative session and welcomed the committee’s vote.
“All children deserve to be safe regardless of what type of school they attend,” says Rabbi Avi Schnall, director of Agudath Israel’s New Jersey Office.
Also last week, the Senate’s education committee approved bipartisan bills that would provide local law enforcement with copies and blueprints of both private and public schools in their areas to allow for better planning in the need of response to a threat as well as expanding a 2016 law that created a framework for retired police officers to provide security at schools.