$2 Billion Smart Schools Bond Act Supports Classroom Technology, High-Tech Security, and School Connectivity

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has 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 yesterday will help ensure safety, modernize classrooms across New York State, and equip students with the skills they need to thrive in the global economy.

Ashraf Allam, Director of Business Operations and Technology with the district said, “with the announcement today on SSBA funding, the district was authorized to spend an additional $264,229.75 of its original allocation of $1,059,936 which was designated in 2015 and first accessed in the 2016-17 school year. This is our second round of spending. What happened today was the authorization to spend more of that original allocation. District plans are approved in stages over the year.”

“The District intends to use the funds to continue the 1:1 device program at the Secondary level and provide more educational technology at the Elementary level. We are excited to be able to offer our students and teachers the chance to continue using technology to enhance instruction,” stated Allam.

“The Smart Schools Bond Act is enhancing school safety and modernizing outdated classrooms in every corner of this great state,” Governor Cuomo said.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 Review Board met 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 were submitted by 111 school districts and eight special education schools. 

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 the construction of pre-kindergarten classrooms will help ensure that students learn in modern, updated spaces.

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 yesterday by the Smart Schools Review Board reflect many of the best practices identified by the Commission.