Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced approval of the two largest Smart Schools Investment Plans to date, totaling $48.3 million. The plans will modernize classrooms in Buffalo and Rochester, part of the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act - a sweeping education technology initiative first proposed by the Governor and overwhelmingly approved by voters.
"Twenty-first century technology is critical to providing quality education to put our students on the pathway to social and economic opportunity," Governor Cuomo said. "By putting technology right in the hands of students and giving educators the equipment they need, we are helping build a stronger New York for all."
Buffalo's Smart Schools Investment Plan invests $21.4 million in classroom technology that will help educators reimagine the process of teaching. Students will have better access to laptops and tablets, and classrooms will have improved equipment that support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. The plan will enable the purchasing of videoconferencing units to better enable long-distance communication, new interactive classroom displays, 3D printers, and laptop/tablet charging stations.
Rochester's Smart Schools Investment Plan totals $26.9 million, including $18.5 million for classroom technology such as new laptops and tablets, desktop computers to be placed in labs, flat panel displays to replace interactive whiteboards in high schools, and replacement smart board projectors for elementary schools. Additionally, $5.9 million will support school connectivity through the new wireless access points, controllers, and wired switching equipment. A total of $2.5 million is allocated for high-tech security purchases, such as the replacement of analog cameras and the addition of new high-resolution digital cameras to enhance the district's video surveillance capabilities.
The plans were approved at the sixth meeting of the Smart Schools Review Board, which is charged with approving plans submitted by school districts and is comprised of the Director of the Budget, the Chancellor of the State University of New York, and the Commissioner of the State Education Department.
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 by the Smart Schools Review Board reflect many of the best practices identified by the Commission.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, "New York State leads the nation when it comes to investing in public education and ensuring that every child has the chance to reach their full potential. Through the Smart Schools initiatives in Buffalo and Rochester, we are equipping our students with the tools they need to excel in the classroom and become a part of New York's world-class workforce after graduation."
State Budget Director Robert F. Mujica said, "Our schools should be the gateways to opportunity in every community, regardless of where they are located. The Smart Schools program is revolutionizing classrooms across the State and the plans approved for Buffalo and Rochester will position students for success in the economy of tomorrow."
State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, "As our 21st century learners grow and change, so must our capacity to use technology in the classroom. The collaborative nature of the Smart Schools Bond Act ensures that districts work with their communities to equip classrooms with new tools that will help students learn skills needed to succeed in life."
SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, "The Governor's Smart Schools investment program continues to be a necessary boost for technology resources in our schools. I am so pleased to see this targeted funding expand the programs for our teachers and students in the Buffalo and Rochester areas."