The New York City School Safety Fund

As the city camera program expands, collected fines could be dedicated to improving safety near schools.

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A few weeks ago, I introduced a legislative package which establishes the New York City School Safety Fund. This fund would serve as a “lock box” to ensure that all fines collected through the city’s speed and red light camera programs are used by New York City officials solely to bolster pedestrian safety in school zones. I introduced these bills in response to a new law which increases the citywide total of mobile and stationary school zone speed cameras from 140 to 750, and another pending Governor Cuomo’s signature which uses cameras affixed to school bus stop signs to ticket motorists who disobey them.

Currently all revenue generated from the violations are deposited into New York City’s General Fund via the Department of Finance. Under this current system the millions of dollars are diverted to non-safety projects selected by City Hall.  My proposal will require a dedicated fund mandating that the revenue be solely used to improve traffic safety. This money should be used in addition to traditional financial allocations the city makes for safety projects. The NYC Schools Safety Fund would be a supplemental resource.

Monies deposited into the New York City School Safety Fund would be available to the Chancellor of the city Department of Education, the Commissioner of the Police Department, and the Commissioner of the city Department of Transportation for the purpose of supporting various pedestrian safety improvement initiatives throughout the city, such as hiring additional crossing guards, installing new signage, constructing sidewalks and restoring faded road markings like crosswalks.

I recently joined Mr. Phil Carolla, Principal of P.S. 56 in Woodrow, to survey the dangerous traffic conditions that members of the community have shared. Our review made it abundantly clear that something must be done to enhance pedestrian safety around the school. The unfortunate truth is that this is not just problem at P.S. 56, but at many of our local schools.

My staff and I will be working with our school communities, local New York City Police Department Precincts and the New York City Department of Transportation to explore and develop ways to improve safety near our schools.

What I am proposing would save lives by utilizing those monies specifically for pedestrian safety improvement initiatives, which is a cause I’m certain my colleagues from both sides of the aisle would be eager to get behind.

By Michael Reilly, NYS Assemblyman, former District 31 Community Education Council President and former NYPD Lieutenant.