5 Orleans districts would share over $7 million in NY technology bond

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 November 2014 at 12:00 am

File photo by Tom Rivers – In this photo from February, State Sen. George Maziarz answers a question in a quiz about New York State history and facts with Holley third-graders. Maziarz directed $67,800 in funding to Holley to purchase 30 SMART Boards. A state-wide proposition on Tuesday seeks to expand technology in school districts throughout the state.

Voters Tuesday will decide the fate of a $2 billion proposal to expand technology in school districts throughout the state.

Proposal Number 3, The Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014, will be on the back of ballots. The referendum, if approved, would give students and teachers greater access to laptops, tablets, interactive whiteboards and iPads and also boost high-speed broadband connectivity.

In Orleans County, the five school districts would receive about $7 million combined in technology aid. The state breaks that down to $2,238,441 for Albion; $1,311,463 for Holley; $967,959 for Kendall; $733,151 for Lyndonville; and $2,000,222 for Medina.

Robert D’Angelo, superintendent at Holley Central School, said he supports the bond act. The technology would help Holley students better “compete in our fast-paced global economy,” he said.

Holley has worked to implement new SMART Boards in the classroom as well as other technology improvements.

“I personally support the Bond Act as it incorporates what current research and best practices define as instrumental on how to invest the funds: to enhance teaching and learning through the use of technology,” D’Angelo said.

The district would use a long-range planning process to determine how to best use the funds.

“It has the potential to reinvent teaching and learning for the demands of the present and near future,” he said about the technology.

The funding will also help create pre-kindergarten classrooms and help districts upgrade security and surveillance systems.

Julie Christensen, superintendent at Kendall Central School, said Kendall struggles with inadequate broadband access for the Internet. However, she would prefer to see the state reinstate $5.5 million lost to the district through the Gap Elimination Adjustment over the last four years.

She testified about Kendall’s high-speed Internet woes during a Congressional hearing last spring.

“Kendall Schools can purchase more technology for our students to prepare them for 21st Century learning, but if our bandwidth is inadequate, which it is, and then all these systems will not run efficiently,” she said.

She worries the technology funds from the state could come with additional strings and mandates that could prove costly to the local district.

“Certainly, the additional funds would provide resources for our students and community, but I would prefer these funds in state aid, or better yet full restoration of Gap Elimination Adjustment,” she said.

Christensen would also like to see districts have flexibility “to support our instructional programs for our students based on our needs.”

If bond act passes, Medina would get $2 million. The district would use the money to upgrade infrastructure, said Jeff Evoy, district superintendent.

Possible projects include:

District-wide network and fiber optic wiring
Network upgrades – 10 gigabit and beyond
Security cameras and systems
Voice Over IP (VoIP) phone system upgrades
Additional wireless (one access point per room)
Additional storage

Lyndonville welcomes more technology in the school district, said Superintendent Jason Smith. Many of the district’s computers and SMART Boards in the classroom are eight to 10 years old and should be replaced, he said.

“Should the voters pass the Bond Act, the District intends to work closely with our Technology Committee to increase access to devices for our students and improve the network infrastructure,” Smith said. “Our Technology Committee would come up with a plan to update and expand our existing use of technology in classrooms.”