- George Bennett Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants the state to spend $1 million next year to help pay security costs at Jewish schools, up from $654,000 approved by legislators this year.
Scott made the announcement at Katz Hillel Day School of Boca Raton, where many of the school’s 510 students lined walkways on the campus with hand-lettered signs to greet the governor.
“I know many Floridians have been horrified by the threats against our Jewish schools and communities last year. We have absolutely zero tolerance for these hateful and anti-Semitic acts and our state has taken important action to keep our students and all of our families safe,” Scott said.
He said the money would pay for more security measures such as video cameras, fences, security gates and bullet-proof glass.
“With increasing hate and anti-Semitic incidents around the country, it’s powerful for us to know that we have your support, Gov. Scott,” said Daniel Adler, a board member at the school and vice chairman of Teach Florida, a group that advocates for the approximately 10,000 students in Jewish day schools around the state.
Reported anti-Semitic incidents nationwide increased 34 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to the Anti-Defamation League. In Florida, the ADL says incidents of vandalism, harassment and assault targeting Jewish people or institutions increased from 91 in 2015 to 137 in 2016. There were 41 reported anti-Semitic incidents in Florida during the first quarter of 2017, the group says.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, sounded initially supportive of Scott’s proposal.
"The safety of our children at school must be a priority…We echo the Governor's concern for Florida's Jewish citizens and visitors and will do all we can to create a safe educational environment. As we pointed out with the introduction of the Hope scholarship, if a child is not safe then they cannot learn,” Corcoran said.