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Increased Funding for Security—

Agudath Israel of America welcomed New Jersey’s 2017 budget, signed into law yesterday by Governor Chris Christie. The budget’s highlights include increased state aid for private and parochial schools for which Agudath Israel has vigorously advocated.

The new budget allocates $7.5 million for security funding for nonpublic schools. The allocation reflects a 200% increase from last year’s budget and provides $50 per child which will allow schools to purchase and install sophisticated camera systems, sensors, lockdown equipment and security guards. The budget also maintains the current level of funding for technology and nursing services for nonpublic school students.

While the budget bill which passed the Legislature contained significantly higher amounts for nonpublic school security, technology and nursing, Governor Christie reduced those amounts using his veto powers.

Rabbi Avi Schnall and Assemblyman Gary Schaer  (D-Passaic)

Rabbi Avi Schnall and Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic)

The guiding force behind the new budget allocations was Assemblyman Gary Schaer (R-Passaic), Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, testified Rabbi Avi Schnall, director of Agudath Israel’s New Jersey office.

“Assemblyman’s Schaer’s clear vision, leadership, and dedication to our children are unparalleled,” he said. “Assemblyman Schaer has worked tirelessly to secure more equitable funding for the safety needs of nonpublic school students. His efforts will have a major impact on tens of thousands of children.”

Rabbi Schnall also thanked Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D- Thorofare) for throwing their support behind the nonpublic school funding in the new budget.

In addition to meetings with legislators, Agudath Israel coordinated community events across New Jersey to raise awareness about the critical need for enhanced security in Jewish schools. In an age when terrorists seek out “soft targets,” schools, especially Jewish ones, are seen as especially vulnerable and in need of upgraded security.

Rabbi Schnall cited the valuable contributions of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center and the Catholic Conference in promoting the needs for these crucial funds, noting that their efforts played a significant role in solidifying these allocations.

(Author: Debbie Maimon)