Following a public hearing and 30-day comment window, the Board of Education approved the Smart Schools Investment Plan Phase I at its meeting on April 11. The district is now moving forward with submission of the plan to the State Education Department.
Phase I calls for the replacement of the district’s aging security camera system across all school buildings.
New York voters in 2014 approved the statewide Smart Schools Bond Act referendum, which authorizes the state to borrow up to $2 billion to finance technology improvements in schools throughout the state. Each district was allocated a certain amount to invest in technology, and Niskayuna’s portion is $1.49 million.
The use of Smart Schools funding does not require any local contribution from school districts. Phase I of the district’s plan calls for spending $488,000 to replace the security camera system throughout the district.
The state Smart Schools funding is designed for investments in four areas: high-speed broadband or wireless internet connectivity for schools; learning technology equipment or facilities; construction or modernization of educational facilities; or high-tech security features such as cameras.
The district has prioritized the use of its $1,494,855 Smart Schools allocation for long-term investments that would be difficult to finance solely with local funds, rather than devices that have a relatively shorter useful life. Plans for subsequent phases are likely to be used to improve high-speed broadband and wireless internet connectivity in the schools.