State Jewish leaders welcomed progress on a bill that would boost security at New Jersey’s nonpublic schools, including Jewish day schools and yeshivas.
The legislation, A-4288, would allocate $25 per nonpublic school student to be dedicated solely to security measures, including lockdowns and safety drills required under state law.
Currently, public schools receive an average of $138.25 per public school student for security, while the nonpublic schools receive no funding.
On June 4, the Assembly Education Committee voted 5-0 to report the “Secure Schools for All Children” act out of committee. The legislation now goes directly for posting for a floor vote of the Assembly. A State Senate version of the legislation, S-2889, has been introduced by Sen. James Beach (Camden).
Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Dist. 36), who also chairs the Assembly Budget Committee, is the prime sponsor of the bill.
“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 Schaer. “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 nonpublic schools in the process.”
Appearing at the committee hearing in support of the legislation were representatives of the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations, Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel, vand the NJ Catholic Conference.
“Given the rise in anti-Semitism, anti-Israel rhetoric, and acts of religion-based hatred and violence, the concerns of the parents for the children they send to community nonpublic [schools] have grown in importance as a priority agenda item of the statewide Jewish community and the State Association,” said its executive director, Jacob Toporek, in a release.
Leslie Ostrin, president of Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva in Highland Park, told education committee members that “properly protecting and providing for the safety of our students, comes with a very big price tag. Cameras, security guards, special locks, and protective measures all cost a lot of money. And that is money that RPRY simply doesn’t have.”
Additional prime sponsors in the Assembly are Assembly members Pamela Lampitt (D-Dist. 6), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Dist. 36), Joseph Lagana (D-Dist. 38), Tim Eustace (D- Dist. 38), and Sean Kean (R- Dist. 30).