Queens lawmakers call on state Legislature to increase nonpublic school security funding

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After a string of anti-Semitic attacks in the Jewish community, Assembly members Daniel Rosenthal and Stacey Pheffer Amato are calling upon the New York state Legislature to substantially increase security funding for nonpublic schools in the New York state budget. 

Historically, the New York state Legislature allocated $15 million annually for the Nonpublic School Safety Equipment (NPSE) Grant, which translates into approximately $37 per child. In response to recent events, New Jersey increased its allocation to $150 per child for security, doubling its previous rate. Rosenthal and Pheffer Amato are proposing New York double its allocation to $30 million, to protect children against the dangers caused by rising anti-Semitism.

“All children — public school and nonpublic school alike — need to feel and be safe,” Rosenthal said. “I hear daily from individuals, schools and houses of worship about their security concerns in the wake of these attacks. No parent should have to worry about their child being the target of hate-fueled violence. Anti-Semitism has no place in New York; this funding affirms our commitment to protecting our children.”

The NPSE Grant is a streamlined, noncompetitive grant available to nearly all nonpublic K-12 schools, regardless of size. The reimbursement form is two pages long — its goal is to protect kids, not add paperwork or complexity. At the request of Agudath Israel and others, the NPSE Grant has been expanded to reimburse a wide array of security upgrades, as well as safety and health items. 

According to Pheffer Amato, there is a sense of urgency felt to safeguard Jewish communities, especially the youngest and most vulnerable citizens. 

“I feel strongly that this funding is critical to take a stand against the recent spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes which, unfortunately, show no sign of decelerating,” Amato said. “I am hopeful that this funding will be granted so that a measure of peace can be felt by those who may be targeted, and so that we join together to demonstrate our stand against hate.”

Aside from recent high-profile attacks, there have been almost daily incidents of knockdowns, rock throwing, cursing, spitting and other forms of abuse aimed at visibly Jewish individuals. In the past year, New York City has seen a 20 percent increase in hate crimes and a 26 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks, which comprise 55 percent of all hate crimes.

Rabbi Yeruchin Silber, director of New York Government Relations for Agudath Israel of America, said, “With the dramatic spike in anti-Semitism incidents, security is foremost on our minds nowadays.” 

“We thank Assembly members Rosenthal and Pheffer Amato for standing up and working with us, and taking the lead on this critical issue,” Silber added. 

James Cultrara, executive secretary of the NYS Council of Catholic School Superintendents expressed gratitude toward the Assembly members for their leadership. 

“The Catholic school community is very grateful to Assembly members Stacey Pheffer Amato and Daniel Rosenthal for their efforts to increase funding to meet the health, safety, and security needs of school children regardless of where they go to schools,” Cultrara said.