This week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced the allocation of an additional $5.79 million to cover critical incident mapping in the state’s nonpublic schools. The funding, which was allocated from two federal funding sources, is part of Governor Murphy’s initiative to protect students and teachers in the case of an emergency by requiring all schools in the state to submit critical mapping data to local law enforcement. Murphy signed bill S2426 into law on November 30, 2022—and now, the governor’s office is making sure that all schools can participate in the implementation of this law.
The critical incident funding for nonpublic schools comes after a lot of hard work and dedication from Teach NJ, a division of the Orthodox Union’s Teach Coalition, which advocates for equitable funding for New Jersey’s nonpublic schools. Teach NJ worked closely with the governor’s office to ensure that the schools themselves would not need to come up with the funding for critical incident mapping, and that the state would allocate money specifically for this purpose.
Katie Katz, executive director of Teach NJ, explained that the impetus for critical incident funding is the increase in school shootings; and in the event that, God forbid, there is a school shooter, law enforcement officials will be able to know the exact layout of a school building and have a sense for where the kids are located and how to protect them.
“Critical incident mapping can help save time and lives during a school shooting or another school emergency,” she shared. “We applaud Governor Murphy for offering every school community, including our Jewish day schools and other nonpublic schools, the tools and funding to keep our children safe.”
Nonpublic schools have grown anxious about coming up with the funds for bill S2426, especially since many have used their security funding from the state for other protective measures. And without the state funding, schools have been feeling pressure to dip into their own budgets, which are already very tight. In this sense, Governor Murphy’s new allocation of funding comes as a relief.
“This funding is vital to our schools as it is helping to alleviate the expense of critical incident mapping on our annual budget. We remain committed to keeping our budgets as tight as possible in order to lessen the tuition burden on our parents,” said Erik Kessler, executive director of The Moriah School.
Given other security threats, Jewish day schools are no stranger to working with authorities to ensure students are protected at all times. “Our relationship with local law enforcement is something we value deeply,” Rabbi Efraim Clair, executive director of RYNJ shared. “It’s really wonderful that the state is recognizing the importance of this relationship and is allocating funds to ensure they can do their jobs and keep our schools and communities safe.”
By Channa Fischer