(May 8, 2019 / JNS)
Hundreds of students from Jewish day schools and yeshivahs descended on the Pennsylvania’s state capital in Harrisburg recently as part of the Orthodox Union’s Teach PA delegation to advocate for increased security funding for nonpublic schools and community institutions.
The students hailed from 11 school districts throughout the state, including Harrisburg, Lower Merion, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton and Yardley.
A little more than six months since the massacre at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, more than 300 students, parents and administrators came to the capital to advocate for additional security funding for the state’s Jewish day schools and yeshivahs.
The group thanked legislators for their support in referring bill SB 521, sponsored by State Sen. David Argall, to the education committee. The bill would provide nonpublic schools with access to the recently created “School Safety and Security Grant Program within Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency,” which awards grants to schools and school districts.
The funding can be used for hiring and training security personnel and mental-health professionals; installing protected doors, windows, alarm systems; and other measures to secure school buildings.
Legislators in attendance included Sen. Dave Argall, Sen. Jay Costa, Sen. Andy Dinniman and Rep. Dan Frankel.
“For the Pennsylvania Jewish community, the massacre which took place at the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh was a turning point. It was when we realized that our community was a target and therefore, we need to increase security at both our houses of worship and our day schools and yeshivahs,” said Teach PA executive director Arielle Frankston-Morris. “Since then, we’ve been working with state legislators to provide the necessary funding for our schools so that our children can go to school feeling safe.”
“Missions like this,” she said, “where parents, children and school administrators come from all over the state to the capital, remind our state legislators what our community’s key priorities are.”