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

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

Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36) has introduced legislation to boost funding for security services, equipment, and technology to help ensure a safe and secure school environment for students attending non-public schools.

“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 (D-Bergen/Passaic). “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.”

Under the provisions of the bill (A-2689), known as the “Secure Schools for All Children Act,” the superintendent of each school district in which a non-public school is located will confer annually with the chief school administrator of the non-public school in order to agree upon the security services, equipment, or technology that will be provided to the students of the non-public school within the limits of available funds.

If the superintendent and the chief school administrator are unable to agree on the security services, equipment, or technology, then the executive county superintendent will make the final determination.

Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, the maximum amount, or state support limit, which may be appropriated for the purposes of the bill is $144.42 per non-public school student, which is the average amount public schools get per pupil for security related concerns and an sizable increase from the $25 that was appropriated per pupil last year. Schaer led the effort to ensure that funding was appropriated through the budget process last year, the first time in the state’s history that funding was included for non-public school security.

Under the bill, this amount would be increased each school year by the consumer price index.

Agudath Israel’s New Jersey director Rabbi Avi Schnall was very pleased with the new bill.

“Keeping our children safe is of utmost importance, especially in the dangerous times we live in,” said Rabbi Schnall, “Assemblyman Schaer’s bill would enable our schools to properly secure our children. We are very grateful for the assemblyman’s efforts and we are hopeful that the bill will easily go through the legislative process.”

The measure has been referred to the Assembly Education Committee.