Queens elected officials secure $70 million from New York State Budget for school safety equipment in religious and independent schools

Photo by Jeenah Moon/Pool via REUTERS

Religious and independent schools throughout the city will soon receive additional funding for school safety equipment, thanks to Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and State Senator Michael Gianaris, who, after extensive advocacy efforts, successfully secured $70 million from the New York State Budget for 2024-25 for Non-Public School Safety Equipment (NPSE) grants.

Hevesi, who represents the neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Middle Village, Rego Park, Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill and Glendale— partnered with Gianaris last October to advocate for increased funding for school safety equipment. After engaging with Governor Kathy Hochul, their concerted efforts led to a significant boost in funding from the previous fiscal year.

The two elected officials lobbied in support of the budget increase and called on the NPSE funds to double in size from $45 million to $90 million, officials said. However, the budget increase negotiations settled at $70 million, which had grown from the initial $5 million in the fiscal year 2023-2024.

“Last year’s monumental NPSE allocation was a much welcome development,” Hevesi said. “But especially over the course of this past year, there were long ways to go in order to provide a better sense of security and to make sure we’re tangibly increasing protections.”

Gianaris, who represents western Queens in the Senate, emphasized their ongoing commitment to advocating for additional resources amidst rising concerns over antisemitism linked to the Israel-Palestine conflict. “As we continue to see a rise in hate crimes at our religious schools, I am pleased my proposal to fund enhanced school security was enacted to the tune of $70 million,” said Gianaris. “Students deserve a safe environment to grow and learn, and families deserve the peace of knowing their children are safe while being educated.”

The NPSE Grant program allows eligible institutions to seek reimbursement for specific safety and health-related expenditures, as outlined by the New York State Department of Education.