May 11, 2016

Governor Cuomo Announces the Approval of 52 Smart Schools Investment Plans, Totaling $45 Million

Governor Cuomo Announces the Approval of 52 Smart Schools Investment Plans, Totaling $45 Million

Funding will support classroom technology, high-tech security and school and community connectivity

Governor Cuomo today announced that the first school district funding requests from the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act have been approved. The Act, proposed by the Governor and overwhelmingly approved by voters, supports investments in education technology that will equip students with the skills they need to thrive in a 21st century economy. These investments will help close the "digital divide" by increasing access to technology and high-speed broadband for all students throughout the state, ensuring that no student gets left behind.

“As technology continues to shape the landscape of our economy, we must reimagine our classrooms into modern centers of learning so that our students are prepared for the jobs that meet the demands of tomorrow,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this bold initiative, we are taking an important step towards strengthening our learning environment and connecting students in every corner of the state with the opportunities necessary to succeed in the 21st century economy.”

The Smart Schools Review Board met today for the first time to approve investment plans submitted by school districts. The Board 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. The Board approved previously issued guidelines on the required components of Smart Schools Investment Plans, and reviewed and approved the first batch of submissions.

The 52 plans approved today budget a total of $45 million for projects, including $26 million for Classroom Technology purchases, $15 million for School Connectivity projects, $4 million for High-Tech Security projects, and $23,000 for Community Connectivity projects.

A summary of these 52 plans is available here.

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 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.

New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica said, “These unprecedented State investments demonstrate once again the Governor's commitment to education, and will benefit children across the state for years to come.”

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher said, “An investment in Smart Schools is an investment in the success of New York’s students at every stage of their education, from cradle to career. The broader access to modern technology and infrastructure enabled by these funds will support our work to ensure that all students have the tools and resources they need to excel in school and come to college ready. Congratulations to all of the schools and programs that will benefit from this first round of awards.”

State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, “Our kids are capable of doing amazing things. It’s our job to make sure they have the tools and the knowledge they need to come up with the next ‘big thing.’ And the Smart Schools funding we’re announcing today will help us do just that. Districts are making major investments in school connectivity, school security, and in individual devices that will allow students access to the internet to expand their knowledge, to practice skills where they need additional help, and to learn how to communicate and share their knowledge with others.”

With Smart Schools funds, 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 will help students to learn at their own pace, expand access to advanced courses and interactive curriculum, and enhance communication between parents and teachers. Smart Schools funds will also facilitate necessary investments in prekindergarten classrooms, removal of classroom trailers and high-tech school security.

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