133 Investment Plans Approved Today by Smart Schools Review Board
$2 Billion Smart Schools Bond Act Supports Classroom Technology, High-Tech Security, and School Connectivity
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the approval of 133 Smart Schools Investment Plans aimed at improving school security and reimagining teaching and learning for the 21st century. The approved plans, totaling $111 million, are part of the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act - a sweeping education technology initiative first proposed by the Governor and overwhelmingly approved by voters. The investments authorized today will help ensure safety, modernize classrooms across New York State, and equip students with the skills they need to thrive in the global economy.
"The Smart Schools Bond Act is enhancing school safety and modernizing outdated classrooms in every corner of this great state," Governor Cuomo said. "This funding expands opportunities for students and educators, and provides New York's future leaders with a safe school environment and the latest technology to learn the skills necessary to succeed in the modern economy."
"The Smart Schools program is expanding learning opportunities and providing advanced technology and connectivity in classrooms across the state, bringing the curriculum into the 21st century," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This $111 million investment as part of the Smart Schools Bond Act is helping to ensure students in all communities have the skills they need for jobs of the future. We are committed to continuing to enhance and modernize our classrooms and making sure we give every student an equal opportunity to succeed."
The Smart Schools Review Board met today for the fourteenth time to consider investment plans submitted by school districts and special education schools. The Board is composed of the New York State Director of the Budget, the Chancellor of the State University of New York, and the Commissioner of the State Education Department.
The plans approved today were submitted by 111 school districts and eight special education schools. Plans include $51.5 million for high-tech security projects, $19.0 million for school connectivity projects, $24.8 million for classroom technology purchases, $3.1 million for the expansion of pre-kindergarten classrooms, and $10.9 million for the removal of transportable classroom units (TCUs) and $1.4 million for non-public schools to enhance classroom technology and school connectivity. A summary of the plans is available here.
With the Smart Schools Bond Act, school districts are investing in technology such as computer servers, interactive whiteboards, tablets, desktop and laptop computers, and high-speed broadband and wireless connectivity. 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. 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 replacement of TCUs and construction of pre-kindergarten classrooms will help ensure that students learn in modern, updated spaces.
State Budget Director Robert F. Mujica said, "Through the Smart Schools program, we are enhancing our school security to keep children safe while also revolutionizing technology in our classrooms to position our students for long-term success in today's global economy."
Interim State Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe said, "We are seeing many innovative educational approaches in these plans that use technology to inspire teachers and better engage students to improve their learning experience. We continue to work closely with the other members of the SSBA Board to ensure that district plans use allocated funds in ways that benefit schools and the communities that surround them."
Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said, "The number one priority for the New York State Board of Regents and Department is increasing equity for all students. The Smart Schools Bond Act is helping districts statewide to upgrade their safety and technological systems, giving parents and students greater peace of mind and expanding access to 21st Century technology that's critical in our ever-evolving economy."
SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, "To help eliminate educational inequality in New York State, we must increase access to resources and new technology from Kindergarten to the graduate level. Initiatives like Governor Cuomo's Smart Schools program are creating a school environment that breeds critical thinking skills and innovation. This support will help more students to move onto college and pursue their dreams. Congratulations to the schools receiving this funding."
In 2014, Governor Cuomo called for New York State to invest $2 billion in its schools through a Smart Schools Bond Act—an initiative that would 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, Governor Cuomo established the Smart Schools Commission to gather information on strategies for how schools can most effectively invest the bond funds. This advisory commission produced a final report recommending 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.