Senator Joe Pennacchio this week introduced a budget resolution that would commit $1.5 million to help ensure the safety of New Jersey school students.
Sen. Joe Pennacchio this week introduced a budget resolution that would commit $1.5 million to help ensure the safety of New Jersey school students. (SenateNJ.com)
“If there is ever a right time to invest in making our schools safer, it is now,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “School safety has gotten plenty of lip service recently, but this resolution will put Trenton’s money where its mouth is.”
Pennacchio’s resolution would appropriate the money to schools for security assessments to determine where they need to bolster protections to safeguard students and teachers in classrooms.
“We have to harden our schools, improve security policies, and do everything we can to keep our children safe,” said Pennacchio. “This should be a priority now, especially after the Governor stripped away almost $400 million intended for school security projects a few years ago. We need to ensure that schools have the resources to hire skilled and knowledgeable professionals to perform security assessments, and not leave it to committees of government bureaucrats to figure out what needs to be done.”
The Legislature approved a ballot initiative in 2018 that would have allowed voters to decide whether to dedicate $1 billion to fund capital projects at our schools and county colleges. Under the nearly unanimous bipartisan plan, $450 million of the $1 billion would have been dedicated to funding school security projects to help protect our K to 12 schools.
The full option never made it to the voters. Governor Murphy conditionally vetoed the legislation and cut the total funding in half and went so far as to eliminate any dedicated funding for school security.
The voters approved the gutted version of the measure that November, but instead of the $450 million the Legislature originally approved, only $75 million was eventually made available the Administration.
“The fact that almost every cent of that money has been spent is evidence that local school districts are hungry for help with projects making schools more robust,” said Pennacchio. “The Governor’s decision to strip away hundreds of millions in school security funding has left many projects in limbo without adequate money. Trenton needs to do better.”
The money included in Pennacchio’s resolution complements $40 million to fund school security projects proposed in the Senate Republicans overall budget plan.
“This budget resolution, along with the Republican plan, will significantly increase the investment in protecting our kids,” Pennacchio noted. “It is no secret the Administration is sitting on a windfall of cash. Let’s put it to use to help fulfill our obligation for safe schools.”