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Florida budget includes $654K to enhance security at Jewish day schools

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Florida is taking extra steps to boost security at Jewish day schools across the state.

Lawmakers tucked $654,000 into the fiscal 2017-18 budget, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott law week, for security funding for Jewish day schools throughout Florida. The request for funding came after a string of bomb threats against Jewish institutions across the country earlier this year.

“There has recently been a dramatic rise in the threats against Jewish day schools and I was proud to join Governor Scott and my fellow Legislative members in taking immediate action to help protect our Jewish communities,” said Rep. Randy Fine, who joined Scott at the Orlando Torah Academy earlier this week to discuss the funding. “This funding will help provide Jewish day schools with important security resources and ensure our students, teachers and parents feel safe.”

Fine, a Brevard County Republican, pushed for the funding during the 2017 Regular Session. His proposal (HB 3653) received bi-partisan support; unanimously clearing the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, and picking up a half dozen co-sponsors, ranging from Republicans Jason Fischer and Bill Hager to Democrats Joseph Geller, Jared Moskowitz, Emily Slosberg and Richard Stark.

The money, according to the Governor’s Office, will be used to help provide security and counter-terrorism upgrades such as video cameras, fences, bullet-proof glass, and alarm systems.

Scott visited two Jewish day schools — the Orlando Torah Academy and the Brauser Maimonides Academy in Fort Lauderdale — to highlight the funding.

There were 167 bomb threats made to Jewish institutions in 38 states and three Canadian provinces as of March 21, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which is tracking threats made to Jewish institutions.

The ADL reported that 18 Jewish day schools, at least one of which was in Florida, received a bomb threat as of March 21.

“We want to make sure our students stay safe and focused on what is most important- getting a great education, and I appreciate the Florida Legislature for taking quick action to come together and fight for this important funding,” the Naples Republican said in a statement earlier this week. “We will continue to work closely with the members of Florida’s Jewish community and our partners in the state and federal government to do all we can to help keep all of our students and families safe.”

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