Pending Legislation Would Release Schools from 2 Percent Cap for School Security
In the wake of the Newtown massacre, schools coping with upgrading security without going over the 2 percent cap may get relief from pending legislation.
In the wake of Newtown, schools everywhere are performing security audits and collaborating with local law enforcement to implement new security intitiatives.
New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro and Superintendent Michael Polizzi confirmed that together they have been reviewing security in each of New Milford's schools and exploring new technology in an effort to implement new systems, but they are not yet ready to openly discuss what they are looking into.
"Some initiatives we will be able to talk about, and some we won't," Papapietro said, stressing that to reveal new school security measures is to open the playbook for someone intent on causing harm.
"Central to all of this, we have to balance the need to secure each building with the need to keep the learning environment from becoming a prison," Papapietro added.
However, the question being asked by many Superintendents is how to implement new security measures and still stay within the 2 percent cap.
There is a bill pending in the Assembly, A3814, that would allow schools to go over the 2 percent cap for securiity expenditures without having to go to the voters for permission. The bill, introduced on Feb. 11, is sponsored by Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D) representing Mercer and Middlesex Counties.
The 2 percent property tax cap was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie in the summer of 2010. The law set a 2 percent cap on annual property tax hikes, effectively lowering the ceiling on county and municipal government and school district spending.
With certain exceptions, municipalities and school districts may increase their tax levies more than 2 percent, but only by approval from the voters.
This pending bill provides that any annual increase in expenditures on school security costs in excess of two percent incurred by a school district will be excluded from the limit.
The bill has been referred to the Assembly Education Committee.
Patch will be following the progression of this bill.