Lakewood Private Schools Earn $ 2 Million in Security


Private schools in Lakewood will receive additional funding of approximately $ 2.2 million from the state to ensure student safety under a law signed Tuesday by Governor Phil Murphy .

The measure doubles the funding for security reasons from $ 75 to $ 150 per student from a private school. Religious and private schools across the state will receive an additional $ 11.3 million to provide security guards, alarm systems, and even doors and windows.

Lakewood will receive the largest share of new funding due to the large population of private school students. During the 2017-2018 school year, the 32,000 students in Lakewood's private schools accounted for one-fifth of all students in private schools in the state. See what it takes to get all these kids in class in the video at the top of this story.

READ MORE: NJ doubles security funding for religious and private schools

The funding addresses a critical need given the increase in hate crimes and shootings in schools across the country, said Avi Schnall, a resident of Lakewood and head of the Agudath office. Israel of America in New Jersey.

Agudath Israel, as well as other Christian, Jewish and Islamic faith-based organizations, lobbied for this funding. Most students in Lakewood's private schools attend Jewish Orthodox schools.

"We are very very grateful to the Governor, and we thank the members of the House and senators who worked on this bill for a very long time," said Schnall.

"The incidents and the story of the last four years have shown that it was critical and they took the lead."

Supporters of religious schools and parish schools have lobbied for increased funding for security for years. The measure has gained momentum as a result of recent acts, including the killing of 11 worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue in October.

The measure has also been criticized by groups such as the Education Law Center, who claim that the state should invest in public schools instead of helping private institutions.

There is also no responsibility on the part of the state for how the money is spent by private schools, said David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center.

"Now we're going to have a safety boost, and the legislature has not even bothered to hold a hearing to see what are we spending taxpayers' money on?" for the safety of schools and what are the real needs, "he said. I said.

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In a letter to the governor, Sciarra wrote that during the fiscal year 2016-2017, all the money allocated to the security of private schools was not used. At least $ 832,000 was left on the table, Sciarra said, citing data from the New Jersey Department of Education.

Murphy signed the bill Tuesday at a Jewish elementary school in Passaic. It has also signed another security measure allowing religious and cultural institutions to use state subsidies for an increased number of security purposes.

"By working with our partners in the Legislative Assembly, we are taking important steps to dramatically improve security measures for New Jersey children and families," Murphy said in a statement. "I am proud to sign two bills that allow a school, a place of worship or a community center can be safe from fear and intimidation."

Through the grant program, New Jersey non-profit organizations considered to be at high risk of terrorist attacks could receive up to $ 75,000 to use for security measures, including readers of unbreakable windows, lighting, fencing and map access. The bill was amended to allow money used for hiring security personnel.

Both measures were supported by an increase in the number of incidents motivated by hatred and prejudice based on race, religion and ethnicity. Nearly 500 hate crimes were reported in New Jersey in 2017, an increase of 76% over the previous year, according to FBI data.

Nationally, the number of reported hate crimes increased by 17%, the largest annual increase in more than a decade. FBI crime data is based on voluntary statements by local law enforcement agencies, and experts say data are often under-reported or incomplete.

Stacey Barchenger: @sbarchenger; 732-427-0114;