Above: Gottheimer with local Bogota officials and Bergen Commissioner Chairwoman Mary Amoroso for today’s federal investment announcement.
BOGOTA, NJ – This week, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced that the Bogota School District has been awarded $277,000 in federal investment to improve security measures and keep students and teachers safe.
The federal investment was administered through the U.S. Justice Department’s School Violence Prevention Program, which was enacted by Congress in the wake of the Parkland school shooting in 2018.
Bogota will utilize the federal investment to make upgrades to camera surveillance, radio communications, online network monitoring, anonymous reporting management system, visitor screening technology, and upgrades to doors, windows, and keys.
“Hopefully in a few months, we will begin returning to normal, we’ll get through this crisis and begin to recover, and we’ll have classes in person and students can finally be reunited with their teachers, a vital goal that I know we all share. That is why we cannot risk taking our eyes off the prize in protecting our children in the one place outside their home where they should feel safest: their school,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) today. “With this incredible federal investment we’re announcing today, Bogota will be able to take critical steps to help protect our kids when they’re back in the classroom and I’m so glad that so many of our North Jersey governments are taking advantage of federal programs like these — to claw more of our federal tax dollars back here to Jersey, to help their town budgets, and to better serve their communities.
Gottheimer was joined today by Bogota Superintendent Damian Kennedy, Bogota Council President Tom Napolitano, Bogota Councilwoman Consuelo Carpenter, Bergen Commissioner Chairwoman Mary Amoroso, and Bogota School Security Specialist Samuel Chiang.
Last week, Gottheimer and fellow Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9) announced that the Teaneck School District was awarded $500,000 in federal investment from the same School Violence Prevention Program, to improve security measures and keep students and teachers safe.
To protect students in North Jersey schools and nationwide, Gottheimer has introduced the Alyssa’s Legacy Youth in Schools Safety Alert (ALYSSA) Act, in memory of Parkland shooting victim Alyssa Alhadeff, whose family lived in Woodcliff Lake, NJ before moving to Parkland, Florida. The bipartisan bill will require silent panic alarms in all schools to immediately alert law enforcement of an active shooter situation and it will increase investment for more School Resource Officers, to help protect students and faculty.
Watch today’s virtual event HERE.
Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
Thanks for joining me today, and for all the work each of you do — and your colleagues: the Board of Education, the Borough Council, and local law enforcement — to educate our kids and to help keep our students and faculty safe.
To all our educators throughout North Jersey, thank you for your passion and commitment to preparing the next generation, even during these turbulent times.
We’re here today — at the start of the new school year — to announce an incredible new federal investment for Bogota — more than $277,000 — to upgrade and improve school security measures and to help law enforcement keep students and teachers safe in schools.
Right now, remote online learning and hybrid classes are currently the norm for many. For example, in Bogota, all learning is taking place remotely at the moment.
But, hopefully in a few months — or not too much longer — we will begin returning to normal, we’ll get through this crisis and begin to recover, and we’ll have classes in person and students can finally be reunited with their teachers — a vital goal that I know we all share.
In the meantime, we cannot risk taking our eyes off the prize — the most important goal of all — protecting our children in the one place outside their home where they should feel safest: their school.
To help with that, I’m announcing today that the Bogota Board of Education has been awarded more than $277,000 to improve the overall security posture of all of the schools in Bogota.
This sizable federal grant investment has been awarded through the School Violence Prevention Program, within the U.S. Department of Justice.
This program was enacted by Congress in the wake of the Parkland school shooting in 2018.
As you’ve heard from Bogota Superintendent Kennedy, they’ve already taken important steps in recent years.
They’ve installed one-button lockdown capabilities in all buildings, computerized exterior key entry, automated police notification, and they’ve hired Special Law Enforcement Officer personnel in all buildings.
With this federal $277,000 investment that Bogota has clawed back from Washington, they are now planning on making even more improvements to keep our kids safe.
Bogota will be continuing its holistic approach to security, by making major upgrades to camera surveillance, two-way radio communication, anonymous reporting management, visitor screening technology and procedures, and door, window, and key control upgrades, and online network monitoring — which is especially important right now with online remote learning.
These are all vital steps to make sure the tragedies that have befallen schools and communities all across the nation, don’t happen right here.
As I mentioned, this grant was created by Congress following the attack in Parkland, Florida
On that February day, as we all know, a gunman walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He opened fire, barbarically killing seventeen people that afternoon, including fourteen children and injuring seventeen others.
Children, a geography teacher, a football coach, and their athletic director.
It was the deadliest high school shooting in our nation’s history. We remember all of the victims — and those of every shooting — like the 26 victims at Sandy Hook.
And, as we know, it’s not just been in Parkland. We’ve continued to see far too many heartbreaking tragedies take place in our nation’s schools.
This $277,000 we’re announcing today is a critical part to helping a North Jersey community like Bogota keep its students safe — all while not impacting their local taxes and local budget.
In our current crisis, our county and town budgets are being stretched to the max, with local municipalities facing serious revenue shortfalls and budget gaps due to the pandemic’s impact on economic activity in North Jersey.
While helping lower our property taxes has always been a focus of mine, clawing more of our federal dollars back to the Fifth District is now more important than ever, which is why I’m thrilled to be a part of helping claw federal investment like this back from Washington and away from the Moocher States to help us here.
Just a few weeks back, I announced that the Fifth District has now clawed 108% more federal tax dollars back from Washington and the Moocher States since 2016 — which, for this past year alone, averages out to a savings of $448 for each household in our Congressional District.
Federal investment like we’re clawing back to help Bogota is only part of a multi-prong strategy to keep our kids safe when they’re back in the classroom.
I’m continuing to push for bipartisan legislation I’ve introduced in the House — the Alyssa’s Legacy Youth in Schools Safety Alert Act — or ALYSSA Act — as that spells out — named in the memory of Alyssa Alhadeff, whose family lived in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, here in the Fifth Congressional District, before moving to Parkland, Florida. Alyssa was tragically killed in the Parkland shooting.
In February of last year, New Jersey signed legislation into law requiring all New Jersey public schools to install silent panic alarms that can be utilized in an active-shooter situation, like in Parkland. That’s New Jersey’s Alyssa’s Law.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a silent alarm in Parkland. Instead, a loud fire alarm went off, which caused mass confusion. These silent alarms are utilized by schools in the case of an emergency, such as a lockdown or active-shooter situation.
While I’m incredibly proud that New Jersey worked together to require silent alarms here in our schools — all schools, nationwide, need those very same protections.
My ALYSSA Act brings the same requirements enshrined in New Jersey’s Alyssa’s Law to all public schools nationwide, and goes one step further by ensuring that every school has access to School Resource Officers (SROs), so that schools have a first responder already there, on the campus, in the event of a critical incident.
To help get even more investment back to schools, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which I’m proud to co-chair, has endorsed the STOP School Violence Act, which will get federal investment to state and local governments to improve security — including the placement and use of metal detectors and other deterrent measures — at schools and on school grounds.
On another front, we also need to stop weapons of war from getting into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. Aside from voting on H.R.8, which will finally enact universal background checks, I’m also continuing to call on the Senate to finally act on closing the Charleston Loophole, which currently allows a firearm sale to proceed even if the FBI has not yet completed the background check.
But with this incredible federal investment we’re announcing today, Bogota will be able to take critical steps to help protect our kids when they’re back in the classroom.
I’m so glad that so many of our North Jersey governments are taking advantage of federal programs like these — to claw more of our federal tax dollars back here to Jersey, to help their town budgets, and to better serve their communities.
North Jersey truly benefits from this investment because our schools and local law enforcement are better prepared to combat any sort of incident, we’re able to do more to keep our kids and their teachers safe — a huge priority of mine, our communities are better protected, and they’re saving taxpayer dollars in the process.
That’s a huge win-win.
I’m committed to working harder every year, to continue to identify and fight for even more federal grants for the Fifth, to boost our return on investment for New Jersey, claw back our taxpayers’ dollars, and keep children safe..
Thank you to everyone joining me today, for your public service, for your commitment to our students, and for supporting your community.
With everyone working together to protect our schools, I know our best days will always be ahead of us.
Thank you and God bless you and God bless the United States of America.