With the application process for two major NYC nonpublic schools initiatives now open, or soon to open, Agudath Israel of America is grateful that nonpublic school children will benefit from some of the same safety protections and educational opportunities as public school children.

Agudath Israel has received word that the city will be sending letters to schools regarding the application process for Local Law 2 of 2016, a new program reimbursing eligible nonpublic schools for security guard services costs for the 2016-2017 school year. The details and timing of the measure’s implementation have been eagerly awaited by yeshivos and parents alike. Sponsored, and tirelessly shepherded, by New York City Councilman David Greenfield, and supported and enacted by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the law will reimburse nonpublic schools with 300 students or more for their costs of hiring security guards, providing a safer environment for their students.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel, thanked both Mayor de Blasio and Councilman Greenfield for their efforts in making this program possible. “Many parents in our community will sleep better at night knowing that their children are more secure, a concern that has become increasingly acute in light of rising worldwide terrorism.”

In another welcome development, Rabbi Zwiebel also acknowledged the mayor’s work in continuing to support the half-day UPK program, whose RFP was released earlier this week for the 2016-17 school year. The half-day option offers families and providers an alternative to the more broadly popular UPK full-day program. The full-day program, which requires 6 hours and 20 minutes of secular instruction, does not work for many in the religious community.

It is especially helpful to yeshivos that the city has opened the RFP process a month earlier than last year. Moreover, this year, contracts for the half-day UPK program will be awarded on a three-year basis, Agudath Israel has learned. This will save providers the administrative burden of annual reapplication and the annual apprehension associated with awaiting word if programs will be funded in the coming year.

“It is reassuring,” the Agudath Israel leader said, “that Mayor de Blasio recognizes that one UPK size does not fit all, and that there is need for flexibility in the program. By adapting the program to allow a half-day option, the mayor is demonstrating an understanding of, and consideration for, the needs of our community.”