The required public hearing on Phase 2 of the district’s Smart Schools Investment Plan will be held on Tuesday, August 14, as part of the Board of Education meeting. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. in the District Office Board Room.
Phase 2 of the plan focuses on network upgrades in alignment with the district’s instructional technology goals, including accommodating additional student devices at all levels and improving network reliability and security. The investments, including upgrading the wide area to support 10Gps connections between all school buildings, are expected to help reduce annual maintenance costs for technology and increase energy efficiency.
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 plan called for using $488,000 to replace the security camera system throughout the district, which was recently completed.
The projected cost of the Phase 2 network upgrades is approximately $740,000. In addition to upgrading the wide area network, a number of new network switches will be replaced or added, wireless access points will be replaced, and device backup batteries will be standardized across the district.
The August 14 public hearing commences a 30-day comment period on this phase of the Smart Schools plan. Feedback can also be submitted by e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org. Following the public comment period, the plan will be finalized and submitted to the State Education Department.
The remainder of the funds are expected to be used in the future for elementary network cabling and the potential purchase of a generator to support the district datacenter.
The district has prioritized the use of its 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. Separately, the district is phasing in a plan for 1:1 student technology, beginning with Chromebooks at sixth grade in the fall of 2018.