OU Heralds Record Security Aid in NY, Calls on Other States to Follow Cuomo’s Lead

01 May 2017

The Orthodox Union (OU) thanked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York legislature for heeding its call for greater security funding for nonpublic schools and called on other states to follow New York’s lead. Last month, New York State allocated a record-breaking $40 million in security funds in the FY2018 budget – the largest security allocation anywhere in the country.

Teach NYS and its parent organization, the OU, played a pivotal role in shepherding this security money through the legislative process, just as it has done every year for the past four years. Before Teach NYS, nonpublic schools received no security funding; since its inception, funding has increased every year. Now, nonpublic schools will be eligible for $40 million, a 166 percent increase over last year’s allocation.

The Orthodox Union called on other state legislatures to follow New York’s lead, particularly in California, Maryland, Florida, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, where the state Teach offices are drafting legislation, finding sponsors, and rallying support for security grants.

In California, Teach CA helped draft AB 927 with Assemblyman Marc Levine to establish a $10 million grant to provide security at schools targeted for hate crimes. Thanks to Teach CA’s efforts, AB 927 recently passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. Teach CA co-chair Michael Buchman testified before the Assembly Budget Committee in support of AB 927.

In Maryland, Teach MD and Maryland Parents for Education helped draft new legislation with Maryland State Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk (HB 1661), which would award security grants to private schools and daycares deemed “at risk of hate crimes or attacks because of their ideology, beliefs, or mission.” Teach MD is leading the effort to secure passage of this bill, recently testifying before the Maryland Senate Education Committee on behalf of HB 1661.

In Florida, Teach Florida helped draft the legislation to provide funding to upgrade security at Jewish schools and is spearheading advocacy efforts for its passage. The legislation passed the state House and Senate budget committees and now heads to a conference where a final allocation will be determined.

In New Jersey, Teach NJS helped pass the first-in-the-state security program for nonpublic schools in 2015. This past year, the state allocated $50 per child for security purposes. Now, Teach NJS is ratcheting up its efforts, urging Gov. Christie and the New Jersey legislature to increase security funding to $144 per child to create parity with public schools. Teach NJS brought Jewish day school parents to testify before the state Assembly and Senate budget committees.

In Pennsylvania, Teach PA created the Safe Schools nonpublic school targeted grant program, which gives funds to nonpublic schools to hire security guards. Now, Teach PA is working with the legislature to expand the program to include the necessary security equipment to keep all children safe.

“The New York State budget is a tremendous achievement for the Jewish community, and we are very grateful to Gov. Cuomo and the legislature,” said Allen Fagin, CEO of the Orthodox Union. “This funding will allow New York’s Jewish schools to make important security upgrades on their campuses, making a real difference for our children.”

“The OU and its supporters pounded the pavement in Albany for months, and Gov. Cuomo and the New York legislature responded to our urgent request with a record-setting security grant for nonpublic schools,” said Mark Bane, president of the Orthodox Union. “All children deserve to go to schools in a safe environment, and we urge all states to follow New York’s lead.”

“There is much work to be done around the country to make sure Jewish schools have the resources they need in these frightening times to protect our children,” said Maury Litwack, executive director of the OU’s Teach Advocacy Network. “Using New York as a model, our offices will work with the local communities and legislators in each state to get the job done.”