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Queens Chronicle

RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS SECTION Upping security at Catholic schools

Some excited to see new law that helps protect their students

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Posted: Thursday, January 28, 2016 10:30 am

The City Council late last year passed a law that it hopes will prevent every parent’s worst nightmare.

The law, which only had four detractors, reimburses private and parochial schools with at least 300 students that provides private, state-licensed, security guards.

Leaders at Catholic schools, one of the major beneficiaries of the law that will go into effect on April 1, expressed excitement for the new funding.

“Any time you have the city come in and help the taxpayers in making sure their kids are safe, it’s always a benefit,” Anthony Como, treasurer of Christ the King’s board of directors, said.

For some, like Christ the King, it’s an opportunity to amp up the security already at the school.

“We already employ security for the outside to either help the girls if they have a concern or direct them to a train,” Sister Kathleen McKinney, principal at The Mary Louis Academy, said. “But we have nobody on the inside. Naturally, we would take advantage of anything like that.”

Como and McKinney said they’re waiting to see a list of companies the city will allow the school to hire security guards from.

Lynn Alaimo, principal at St. Gregory the Great School in Bellerose, wasn’t sure her school qualified until reached by the Queens Chronicle.

“With the climate nowadays, I think more and more schools are looking for safety options,” Alaimo said. “Being able to have a private security guard is something that most Catholic schools probably wouldn’t be able to afford on their own.”

Unlike Christ the King and The Mary Louis Academy, St. Gregory does not have security patrolling the outside of the school.

“We have a buzzer system and closed circuit cameras,” the principal said. “We have not had any incidents. But I’m sure having a security guard would make some of our parents more at ease.”

McKinney said she, too, has not had any unfortunate incidents at the school.

“We keep the doors locked and we have our own maintenance supervisor around,” she said. “We have been very fortunate.”

Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn), the prime sponsor of the law, was inspired to introduce it following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012 — but some see the $20 million in spending, which also applies to secular private schools, as an unconstitutional breach of separation of church and state. Como disagrees with them.

“All of the Catholic school parents pay taxes,” he said.

He also hopes it’s only one step the city takes to protect children at private schools.

“We’ve seen in other states, they’ve put in serious money for security systems, antiterror plans and devices,” he said. “We’ve seen it with companies that have approached us. I hope the city continues to protect our children.”

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