Smart Schools Review Board approves $59.9M for technology upgrades

New York News

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 24: A teacher wears a mask and teaches remotely from her classroom on September 24, 2020 in New York City. New York City, the nation’s largest school district opened its classrooms to remote teaching this week and plans to open in-person blended teaching and learning next week. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Wednesday, 78 Smart Schools Investment Plans were approved by the Smart Schools Review Board. These plans are aimed at improving school security and reimagining teaching and learning for modern day teachers and students.

The approved plans, totaling $59.9 million, are part of the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act. This act is an education technology initiative.

“Internet access is the electricity of the 1930s and ’40s; it is that crucial to everyday life and learning and so, it is imperative that we do everything possible to ensure that New York’s children have equal opportunities to connect and receive a meaningful education, even when they can’t be in the classroom,” State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said. “I applaud the work our districts are doing with these much-needed SSBA funds to improve infrastructure for in-person and remote learning, as well as fortifying high-tech security measures and ensure that students and teachers have what they need to be successful.”

The approved plans were submitted by 72 school districts and 2 special education schools. Projects include $21.2 million for high-tech security, $16.7 million for school connectivity, $14.6 million for classroom technology, $5.3 million for pre-kindergarten classrooms, $1.1 million for the replacement of transportable classroom units and $1.1 million for nonpublic schools’ classroom technology and school connectivity.

With the Smart Schools Bond Act, school districts are investing in technology such as computer servers, interactive whiteboards, tablets, computers, and high-speed internet and Wi-Fi. This technology helps students to learn at their own pace, expands access to advanced courses and interactive curriculum, and enhances communication between parents and teachers.

Of the $14.6 million in classroom technology expenditures approved at the meeting, districts have allocated $8.8 million for the purchase of laptops and tablets, helping to provide students with the technology required to succeed as schools continue to respond to the ongoing pandemic and operate under remote and hybrid learning models.

Investments in high-tech school security support the purchase of new equipment, such as emergency notification systems and other safety technology. Additional investments in the construction of pre-kindergarten classrooms will help ensure that students learn in modern, updated spaces.

The Review Board met on Wednesday for the sixteenth time to consider investment plans submitted by school districts and special education schools. The Board includes the Director of the Budget, the Chancellor of the State University of New York, and the Commissioner of the State Education Department.  

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