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Today at East Brook Middle School in Paramus, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey will use $6.5 million from the Biden Administration’s federal emergency pandemic aid package called the American Rescue Plan to design digital maps for half of all public and private school buildings that don’t already have them. The maps will be created jointly by the state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the NJ state police.
“Ensuring school safety is among my, and I think our, collective most sacred obligations,” Murphy said. “An important part of school safety is ensuring that first responders have the tools they need to answer any emergency of any size and at any time. When every second matters the first and perhaps most important tool is the ability to know without delay not just where an emergency is within a building but also the fastest and safest route to get there.”
This announcement, which Murphy made with Congressman Rep Josh Gottheimer, comes on the heels of the massacre of schoolchildren and teachers in Uvalde and a rash of other school shootings.
Politico notes that earlier this month Murphy signed a bill requiring all public districts, traditional and charter, to set up “threat assessment teams” to identify “students of concern” and deter potential violence. There is another bill in the Statehouse, NJ S3037, that would permit county sheriffs to “hire and place armed retired police officers in schools to assist with security.”
Murphy also addressed the teacher shortage, which he said is occuring in NJ as well as the rest of the country, and said he is going to D.C. to discuss this U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. One potential way to garner more teacher applicants would be eliminating a controversial licensing test called the edTPA. A bill to eliminate that test passed the State Legislature unanimously earlier this year. When Murphy was queried about whether he would sign it, he replied,
No news to make on that. Obviously, we want to make sure that everybody who’s leading the classroom is qualified … that’s an objective that we all share.