State Senator Dawn Marie Addiego and Assemblymen Scott Rudder and Chris Brown are introducing a bill that would require the establishment of a school security construction code that would apply to the building of new public school buildings and additions. The State Departments of Community Affairs and Education would join forces to create the code.“As a society, we have learned some hard lessons. The vulnerability of our children demands changes in the way we build our schools,” says Addiego. “Assuring a safe and welcoming learning environment for every child in New Jersey schools is our ultimate priority.”

The lawmakers believe experts should be the ones making the decisions about how to best secure schools in the Garden State.

“We will direct the Commissioner of DCA, in developing the code, to consult with law enforcement authorities, specialists in school building security, and recommendations of national experts on construction and design practices,” says Brown. “This will establish the roadmap for constructing safer schools and saving lives.”

Strategies are already being used in some schools, including securing entrances to make it tougher for anyone to get in. Some schools also use high-tech locks and hardware on classroom and office doors to stop anyone unwanted from getting in.

“In the aftermath of the (Chicago) blaze, improved school construction standards were established, strict evacuation procedures were adopted, and frequent fire drills became the norm,” explains Rudder. “As a result, no student has died in a school fire in more than 50 years. Our goal is to be as effective with new and better rules and policies.”

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