Funding Will Go Toward Expanding and Upgrading Wired and Wireless Broadband Connectivity and Other Classroom Technology
Smart Schools Review Board Approves 57 Additional Smart School Investment Plans from Across the State Totaling $32.9 Million
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the approval of 58 Smart Schools Investment Plans, including $383 million for broadband and other technology upgrades in New York City schools. The funding is part of the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act - a sweeping initiative aimed at reimagining teaching and learning for the 21st century. The Act, first proposed by the Governor and overwhelmingly approved by voters as a 2014 ballot measure, is helping schools to equip students with the skills they need to thrive and succeed in the global economy.
"Through the Smart Schools Bond Act, we are bringing every classroom into the 21st century by equipping them with modern broadband and other technology and in the process knocking down barriers to inequality," Governor Cuomo said. "This funding will help ensure every child in New York has the tools they need to compete in the economy of the future."
"In today's economy, it is essential for students to have access to the latest technology to prepare them for future success," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "The Smart Schools initiative is transforming classrooms across New York and providing new opportunities for learning. This latest investment for New York City schools is focused on significant upgrades to ensure our children can thrive no matter what neighborhood they live in."
Meeting for the eleventh time today, the Smart Schools Review Board approved investment plans submitted by the New York City School District, 50 additional school districts and six special education schools.
A summary of the plans approved today is available here.
New York City's $383 million technology investment plan, approved today, budgets $250 million to expand and upgrade schools' digital networks to ensure the consistency of wired and wireless broadband connectivity. Network infrastructure equipment - including servers, wireless access points, wireless controllers, routers, switches and cabling - will be updated. This investment, coupled with other investments already underway, will allow all New York City school buildings to have access to broadband speeds of 100 Mbps or higher per 1,000 students.
New York City's approved technology plan also budgets $133 million for the purchase of technology devices to be used inside the classroom, including laptops, desktop computers, tablets, charging carts, and tools to integrate the devices into the network. The Smart Schools program will place special emphasis on ensuring upgrades in struggling and persistently struggling schools, expanding blended learning programs, and implementing the Computer Science for All initiative.
The investments approved today are part of New York City's total allocation through the Smart Schools Bond Act of $783 million. In September, the Smart Schools Review Board approved the City's investment plan to use $400 million of its allocation to remove portable classroom units and construct pre-kindergarten classrooms.
At today's meeting, the Smart Schools Review Board approved 57 additional plans from school districts and special education schools across the state. This includes 34 plans supporting $16 million in high-tech security projects, 24 plans that invest $8 million in classroom technology statewide, 22 plans that will support $7 million worth of school connectivity purchases, and one plan to spend $1.5 million on pre-kindergarten classroom space.
Plans approved to date by the Smart Schools Review Board total nearly $1.3 billion, supporting school districts in every region of the State.
State Budget Director Robert F. Mujica said, "By ensuring connectivity and modern technology, the plans approved today will transform classrooms into modern learning centers preparing students for success no matter their zip code. Of paramount importance, the Smart Schools program is also advancing high tech security solutions to help ensure the safety of students, statewide."
State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, "This funding has been critical statewide as districts work to upgrade broadband infrastructure and connectivity to ensure our children can keep pace with a world that is evolving rapidly. We continue to work to streamline the process so schools can put their plans for this very important funding into action for students. Today's approvals mean New York City and more than 50 other school districts and Special Education Schools can move forward with upgrades for improved educational technology and infrastructure, and high-tech security upgrades including video surveillance and emergency notification systems."
SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, "Today's Smart School Boards Act funding, particularly the $383 million investment for the New York City technology plan, is proof of Governor Cuomo's ongoing commitment to improve learning and create opportunities for students throughout New York State. Technology will continue to shape our future. By providing classrooms and teachers with the latest technologies and resources, we prepare our students to excel academically and professionally."
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 and voted in favor of 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.