PARAMUS – Going to school today is not as simple as it was a generation ago.
That reality brought Phil Murphy, and as he likes to say, a “cavalcade” of stars, to the East Brook Middle School today to highlight an innovative security plan.
The governor said the state will use $6.5 million from the federal American Rescue Plan to develop computerized layouts and renderings of all schools in New Jersey – public, private and charter. This plan began in 2019 and the added money will enable the state to finish the job. About half the schools in New Jersey still need to be electronically mapped.
Murphy pointed out that quickly summoning law enforcement in case of an emergency through silent alarms is prudent. But what if first responders do not know where they are going? After all, some schools these days are a maze of crisscrossing corridors. As the governor put it, “We can’t just hope (first responders) know where they are going.”
The digital layout will be accessible to law enforcement personnel and will include all pertinent information. This means not only the layout of the building – hallways, classrooms and offices – but the perimeter, which includes playing fields, parking lots and nearby access roads.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, whose 5th District includes Paramus, often takes pride in working to “claw” federal money back to New Jersey. He said these funds are an example of that happening.
For years, politicians on both sides have lamented the fact New Jersey taxpayers send much more money to the federal government than the state gets back in aid.
Gottheimer, in fact, likes to call states that get the most aid – “moocher states.” He did so again today.
State Sen. Joe Lagana praised the coming system as “military grade technology”:and said that many people now fear an “unsafe atmosphere” in schools.
Also on hand were a number of top state officials, including Matt Platkin, the acting Attorney General, Pat Callahan, the head of the state police, and Laurie Doran, the director of homeland security.
School has already begun in some locales, but all schools will open next week, There are an estimated 1.4 million public school students in New Jersey. So the timeliness of the event was obvious.
The governor also said that he plans to be in Washington tomorrow for a White House meeting about a nationwide teacher shortage.
To that end, Murphy said that all teachers hired during the pandemic are certified and are good to go.
He also took a political swipe of sorts at Chris Christie – always safe terrain for a Democrat.
Murphy said Christie’s anti-teacher, or perhaps anti-NJEA, rhetoric probably discouraged some from going into teaching.
“My predecessor just shredded the profession whenever he could,” Murphy said.