Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the approval of 48 Smart Schools Investment Plans focused on reimagining education in an evolving age and boosting school security. The approved plans, totaling $13.2 million, are part of the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act, a sweeping education technology program.
“Investing in our children’s education is critical to not only building foundations for individual success, but ensuring our future leaders are prepared to guide New York forward,” Governor Hochul said. “The Smart Schools Bond Act supports schools across New York State in that effort by providing students with a safe, secure and enlightening environment.”
The Smart Schools Review Board recently met for the 20th time to consider investment plans submitted by school districts and special education schools. The Board is composed of the New York State Budget Director, the Chancellor of the State University of New York, and the Commissioner of the New York State Education Department.
The plans approved by the Board were submitted by 45 school districts and one special education school. Projects include $7.9 million for high-tech security, $4.7 million for classroom technology, $356,000 for school connectivity, and $275,000 for nonpublic schools’ classroom technology and school connectivity. A summary of the plans is available here.
The investments authorized by the Board aid in modernizing classrooms and school security statewide. High-tech security tools supported by the Smart Schools Bond Act include entry control systems, video systems, and emergency classroom notification systems. These upgrades will enhance the safety of New York’s schools, helping to ensure that students are able to learn in a secure environment.
New technology purchases supported by the Smart Schools Bond Act include computer servers, interactive whiteboards, tablets, desktop and laptop computers, and high-speed broadband and wireless connectivity. These tools will provide students with a range of different avenues for understanding new information, expand student learning both inside and outside the classroom, and promote parent-teacher communication.
New York State Division of Budget Director Robert Megna said, “The Smart Schools Bond Act ensures New York’s brightest asset, our students, have the tools and support they need. Strategic investment in New York State schools is an investment in the future of New York.”
State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “The Smart Schools Bond Act investments are crucial in providing the technology to engage students in learning regardless of modality, and enhancing security systems to keep them safe within their school communities. This funding is vital in our commitment to ensuring that every student in our state has equitable access to a high-quality education.”
SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, “It is essential for our students to have access to the latest technology in order for them to succeed in the classroom. Technology is constantly evolving and is ingrained in nearly every aspect of our modern society. By accessing the most up-to-date technology, our students will be able to expand where and how they learn, while also closing the technological divide in education, thanks to the Smart Schools Bond Act.”
In 2014, New York State invested $2 billion in its schools through a Smart Schools Bond Act—an initiative to finance educational technology and infrastructure, providing students access to the latest technology and connectivity needed to succeed and compete in the 21st century economy. New Yorkers agreed, as the voters authorized the Smart Schools Bond Act that November.
Following the proposal of the Bond Act, the Smart Schools Commission was established to gather information on strategies for how schools can most effectively invest the bond funds. This advisory commission recommended a focus on expanding robust broadband and wireless connectivity and utilizing transformative technologies. The plans approved today by the Smart Schools Review Board reflect many of the best practices identified by the Commission.