New York Schools Receive $46mil as Part of Smart Schools Act

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that 52 schools across the state will be receiving an update in technology as the result of a $45 million investment.

The money will come from a $2 billion technology improvement bond for schools, titled the Smart Schools Bond Act, that was approved by voters in 2014.  Schools can use the bulk of the money, $26 million, to equip classrooms with improved technology and high-speed broadband, as well as other technological improvements such as security devices, Internet network switches, and backup batteries for broadband connections.

“As technology continues to shape the landscape of our economy, we must reimagine our classrooms into modern centers of learning so that our students are prepared for the jobs that meet the demands of tomorrow,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this bold initiative, we are taking an important step towards strengthening our learning environment and connecting students in every corner of the state with the opportunities necessary to succeed in the 21st century economy.”

The disbursement of $45 million will be put toward projects across the state.  $26 million will be used for Classroom Technology purchases, $15 million will go toward School Connectivity, $4 million will be put toward High-Tech Security, and $23,000 will go toward Community Connectivity.

Upon the proposal of the Bond act, Cuomo put together the Smart Schools Commission in order to collect information with regards to strategies for schools to effectively invest the bond funds.  A report was created by the commission that recommended a focus be placed on increasing broadband and wireless connectivity, as well as utilizing transformative technologies.

New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica said, “These unprecedented State investments demonstrate once again the Governor’s commitment to education, and will benefit children across the state for years to come.”

Members of the Smart Schools Review Board approved the plans from the state Budget Division.  The board currently plans to continue to meet periodically to approve additional proposals as the process continues.  “We will be back here shortly to keep this process moving forward,” said Beth Berlin, executive deputy state Education Commissioner.  The board is made up of the Director of the Budget, the Chancellor of the State University of New York, and the Commissioner of the State Education Department.

Guidelines had previously been issued by the board concerning the required components of Smart Schools Investment Plans.

The amount given varies by school district, with the Chenango Valley Central School District receiving $1,295,686, while the Horseheads Central School District will gain $2,929,862.  All schools are required to outline their spending proposals on their websites.

A full list of districts that will receive funding can be found on Cuomo’s website.  Lakeland Central School District is set to receive the highest amount, $3.65 million, writes Richard Chang for THE Journal.

It is the hope of the state that the new technology will help students to learn at their own pace, increase access to advanced courses and interactive curriculum, while also allowing for better communication to occur between parents and teachers.  The funding will also be used to aid in improvements in pre-kindergarten classrooms, the removal of classroom trailers, and the introduction of high-tech school security.

The first round of funding was approved by the state panel earlier this week.