The Department of Education is doubling the five-year capital plan budget for school safety, according to Bayside-based Councilman Paul Vallone.
The Queens lawmaker received a letter from DOE Deputy Chancellor of the Division of School Planning and Development Karin Goldmark on Jan. 28, confirming that the Safety and Security Program budget within the city’s Five-Year Capital Plan would increase from $100 million to $200 million in the upcoming fiscal year.
“The Safety and Security Program equips schools with state-of-the-art security technology to ensure that all of our schools are safe learning environments for children,” wrote Goldmark in her letter. “Prior capital plans have emphasized the importance of school safety through investments in network-based surveillance, ID-card access control, radio communication and metal detectors. These innovations will continue in this Five-Year Capital Plan.”
Increased funding for citywide school safety in fiscal year 2020 to 2024 will begin in July 2019. Vallone has advocated for some of the funding to go toward the latest security technology — including security cameras — for all New York City Public Schools.
“I am thrilled to hear that the Department of Education’s and School Construction Authority’s Five-Year Capital Plan includes a doubling of funds – from $100 to $200 million – designated solely for the Safety and Security Program,” said Vallone. “Ensuring school safety requires capital investments, especially when a third of our schools continue to lack camera systems. This allocation will help ensure the safety of our students, who must always be our top priority.”
Vallone has been a staunch supporter of increased security measures in the city’s public schools. Back in June 2018, the councilman rallied with New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, parents, teachers and students in support of security technology including Internet Protocol Digital Video Surveillance (IPDVS) systems, communications upgrades and viewing stations.
Using IPDVS systems, authorized school officials can view live and archived camera images directly on their computers. Additionally, authorized personnel from borough and central offices can view these images remotely.
In September 2018, Vallone addressed a letter to Mayor de Blasio, with the signatures of 11 fellow Council members, to request that the city increase capital funding for enhanced security measures at K-12 DOE public schools. The 12 Council members called on the city to set aside funding for IPDVS and for the passage of Vallone’s legislative package to create a School Safety Emergency Preparedness Task Force.
The two bills were heard in the Council’s Public Safety Committee in 2018 and are currently waiting to be passed through the committee.
Vallone has allocated funding for these security systems at several schools in District 19 but is looking for more DOE investments so that all city public schools can have the latest technology. According to city data from 2018, only 1123 out of 1,700 NYC schools have IPDVS, leaving one-third of the schools without the system.
In District 19, which includes Bayside, College Point, Flushing and Whitestone, 62 percent of the schools lack the modern security system.
“These modern security systems provide a critical layer of protection to our city’s schools,” Vallone said. “This important funding allocation will help ensure that every city school is equipped to confront emergencies of all types. We must be proactive – not reactive – when it comes to school safety.”