The New York State Education Department has released $15 million to yeshivos and other nonpublic schools for the Safety Equipment Grant Program. Agudath Israel, with other groups, advocated for this increase for years, and is gratified that the amount allocated more than tripled the $4.5 million reimbursed by the state in previous years.
And it was more than a raw numerical increase. Agudath Israel recognized that, in reality, there are many safety and security concerns our children face at school that reinforced glass and bollards do not address. Agudath Israel therefore scrutinized the allowable items list and successfully advocated for the inclusion of health-related items like asbestos testing, lead testing, carbon monoxide detectors and costly automatic external defibrillators. New security items like security guards, school safety and security assessments and trainings are also now included. Finally, a new category of fire safety equipment such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are now included as well.
In summary, yeshivas will now have access to significantly more state funding for safety and security as well as expanded opportunities to spend those funds in ways that meaningfully address the real-life concerns each school may have.
Agudath Israel thanks Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for shepherding this critical, marked expansion of the Safety Equipment Grant Program for nonpublic schools.
“The safety and security of a yeshiva’s students and staff are of paramount concern to principals, executive directors and parents alike,” said Mrs. Deborah Zachai, director of education affairs for Agudath Israel of America. “We place our trust in Hashem and Hashem alone, but these additional funds and newly allowable items are part of our necessary hishtadlus to ensure the health and safety of our children where they spend the majority of their day.”