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July 23, 2014 By:
Legislation Makes Schools a Safer Bet
Jewish day schools and other private schools in Pennsylvania will now have an easier time affording security for their buildings, said advocates of a new law that provides grants to hire security officers.
The state had initially approved legislation to provide schools with funding last summer, but the law, which Gov. Tom Corbett approved July 11, was not effective for private schools, said Karen Barrall, the Orthodox Union’s mid-Atlantic region director. The legislation was proposed after the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Since private schools cannot directly apply to the state for funding, the law is intended for the municipalities to apply for the grants on their behalf, which didn’t happen, said Barrall.
Sources said it was because the municipalities did not want to give up a police officer — who would have been paid via the grant — as security for schools.
Under the new law, private schools will now apply to the state for the $60,000 grant and then receive the security officer through a vendor, similar to the way private schools receive funding for textbooks from the state. Barrall said the organization is hoping the grants will be allocated at the end of the summer in time for the coming school year.
“Most Jewish day schools do have a security officer and this funding helps assist in paying for that,” said Barrall. The organization lobbied for the legislation during a trip with parents and students last month to Harrisburg. “Our children’s safety is a top priority for our community.”