As part of the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act, New York has approved $31.4 million in funding for 61 Smart Schools Investment Plans.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office described the Smart Schools Bond Act – approved by voters in 2014 – as a “sweeping education technology program.”

“Inefficient technology was a huge hurdle during the COVID-19 pandemic – perhaps nowhere more evident than in our schools – and our students’ educational and social experiences suffered,” Gov. Hochul said. “This $31.4 million investment will allow students to access the technology to bring them the opportunity to learn at their own pace while providing interactive experiences both inside and outside of the classroom.”

The Smart Schools Review Board, composed of the Director of the Budget, the Chancellor of the State University of New York, and the Commissioner of the State Education Department, met to approve the plans.

The 61 approved plans were submitted by 57 school districts and one special education school. Projects include $16.6 million for high-tech security, $7.2 million for classroom technology, $7.1 million for school connectivity, and $500,000 for nonpublic schools’ classroom technology and school connectivity.

As part of the Smart Schools Bond Act, schools can invest in new high-tech security tools such as entry control systems, video systems, and emergency classroom notification systems. Gov. Hochul’s office said these upgrades are “critical as the state and local partners work to bolster the safety of all public spaces.”

“As we continue to emerge from the pandemic disruptions in the classroom, the Smart Schools Bond Act is helping schools prepare students to thrive in their academic career and in the workforce,” said New York State Division of Budget Director Robert Menga. “The plans approved today will enhance school security to keep children safe, while providing the technology and enhanced tools of a modern, connected classroom.”

Funding can also be used to purchase computer servers, interactive whiteboards, tablets, desktop and laptop computers, and high-speed broadband and wireless connectivity. “These tools help students to learn at their own pace, extend opportunities for interactive experiences both inside and outside the classroom, and promote parent-teacher communication,” Gov. Hochul’s office said in a statement.

“In today’s classroom, notebooks, pens, pencils, and even chalkboards are not sufficient, and must be accompanied by tablets, interactive whiteboards, and other new tools,” said SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. “Technology is constantly evolving, and so should our schools’ use of technology to teach. For nearly a decade, the Smart Schools Bond Act has enhanced digital learning by providing students and educators the technology they need to succeed.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs