In recognition of the dangers students can face in their schools, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ralph Caputo, Sterley Stanley, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson and Bill Moen aims to help keep New Jersey children safe by awarding grants for school security projects. The measure unanimously passed the full Assembly Monday.
The bill (A-5886) appropriates a total of $66,173,243 from New Jersey’s Securing Our Children’s Future Fund to the Department of Education (DOE) to award grants to school districts for security projects. It is part of a larger legislative package providing grants for the purpose of improving various aspects of schools throughout the state.
Grants would be prioritized for K-12 schools looking to install panic alarm systems in compliance with Alyssa’s Law, which requires all public elementary and secondary school buildings to be equipped with panic devices that can silently and directly notify law enforcement of life-threatening emergencies. The law was named after one of the students killed in the tragic shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school in 2018.
Additional funding may be awarded to schools already in compliance with the law that are seeking to implement additional security improvements such as surveillance cameras, keyless and/or remote locking systems for doors, more lighting in parking lots, and secure vestibules in entryways.
Upon the bill’s passage, Assembly sponsors Caputo, (D-Essex), Stanley (D-Middlesex), Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) and Moen (D-Camden, Gloucester) issued the following joint statement:
“School shootings are horrific tragedies that take far too many lives throughout our country each year. It is better to prepare for the possibility of a school shooting than it is to leave our schools undefended on the assumption it could never happen here. This funding will allow more schools to implement security measures that would help protect students and staff in the event of an emergency. Making our schools safer is one crucial way we can secure our children’s futures.”
The bill now heads to the Senate.