Smart Schools Bond Funds Ed Tech and Infrastructure in 90 Districts

New York has announced the latest round of districts and schools to receive funding through the "Smart Schools Bond Act." That bond was passed in 2014-2015 and approved the issuing of some $2 billion in general obligation bonds to finance improved educational technology and infrastructure.

The latest allocation, round 13, covered $85 million in projects from 90 school districts and three special education schools. Projects included $26.3 million for high-tech security projects (for 49 recipients), $25.6 million for school connectivity projects (with 33 grantees), $18.5 million for classroom technology purchases (involving 48 districts), $9.9 million for pre-kindergarten classrooms (for two school systems), and $4.2 million for the removal of transportable classroom units (TCUs) (for one recipient).

The largest amount allocated was $10,200,000, which went to Yonkers Public Schools for construction of pre-K classrooms and to replace TCUs. The smallest grants went to Elba Central School District (CSD) ($20,197) for replacement of TCUs, and Villa of Hope ($20,211) for new classroom tech.

Among the projects approved were these:

  • $2.1 million to Whitesboro CSD to upgrade an "antiquated network infrastructure" in five schools;

  • $457,000 to Bradford CSD, to run fiber optic cabling throughout the district boundaries and facilitate several wireless access points along the route to deliver connectivity to a community where 90 percent of student households lack access to minimal broadband services;

  • $1.2 million for Alden CSD to purchase additional Windows 10 devices for grades 5-12 and additional iPads for K-2, along with staff devices over the next four years;

  • $3.9 million for pre-K classrooms at Bay Shore Schools, which will enable the district to begin a new full-day program for all three-year-olds in the district at a dedicated facility and free up space currently being used by outside contractors that provide the pre-K programs;

  • $1.2 million for Allegany-Limestone CSD, to update the fire alarm system in two of its schools and add new access control systems; and

  • $4.2 million to the Yonkers school system to replace four existing TCUs with building additions onto two of hits schools. (The remaining $6 million the district is receiving will be dedicated to classroom construction projects.)

"The Smart Schools program expands learning opportunities, provides advanced technology and connectivity in classrooms across New York, and brings the curriculum into the 21st century," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, in a statement. "This significant investment for tech upgrades in schools is ensuring that students have the skills they need in the global innovation and tech economy. We must continue to take steps to modernize our classrooms and give every student an equal opportunity to succeed."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.