Students’ Lives Are Priceless, But School Security Can Break the Budget

Jill Marino is scared for her son Jaxson’s life. The second-grader attends school at Parkview Elementary in Westville and with the nearly weekly reports of school shootings unfolding across the country, Marino says she will do whatever it takes to make sure Jaxson comes home safe every day.

“When Sandy Hook happened, I lost all of the oxygen in my lungs for days,” Marino said, referring to the 2012 elementary school shooting. After the tragedy at Parkland, FL, in February, she set up a Facebook group for New Jersey parents concerned about school safety to talk about what they can do to protect their kids. “All of us are trying to be involved and make sure none of this ever happens again anywhere. But statistics are not on our side,” she added.

With concern over school safety growing, the Legislature just added an additional $500 million to a proposed bond issue for vo-tech and community colleges. The bond — now totaling $1 billion — is expected to be on the November ballot. It will set aside $500 million for school security upgrades at K-12 buildings. The bipartisan legislation calls on acting Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet to develop procedures, project plans, and criteria for school security grants, without requiring the schools to match funds. This additional funding could go a long way to help schools upgrade their security systems.

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