(TNS) -- Three area schools were among the first district funding requests approved from the the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday.
The act proposed by Cuomo and approved by voters in 2014 supports investments in education technology that will equip students with the skills they need to thrive in a 21st century economy, according to a media release.
Allowable projects include school and community connectivity, classroom technology and high-tech security.
The Smart Schools Review Board met Wednesday and approved plans from 52 schools totaling $45 million. The board included plans from Laurens, Schenevus and Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Central schools.
The board is comprised of state budget director Robert Mujica, State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, and state Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.
Laurens Central School will be receiving $142,320 for school connectivity and $338,400 for high-tech security. Superintendent Romona Wenck said the existing security system is outdated, and the building only has a few wireless connection points.
“This will help the district address those issues,” she said.
Without the state funds, such needed improvements are something the district would struggle to afford, Wenck said.
“It’s very helpful that it comes at no expense to local taxpayers,” she said.
Schenevus Central School will be receiving $222,000 for classroom technology, such as laptops and tablet computers.
“It’s critically important for students and teachers to have access to the wireless technology,” said Superintendent Thomas Jennings.
The Smart School investment plan helps “jumpstart this initiative.” Otherwise the district would have had to phase it in over several years, instead of starting it next year, he said.
At Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Central School, Superintendent Annette Hammond said the district will receive $278,139 for improvements to security, such as providing a vestibule at the main entrance and by the gymnasium. Another $270,268 will be used for a variety of improvements to the technological infrastructure.
That funding allows for improvements that might otherwise not be possible she said, adding that the work is part of the school’s capital project.
“We’re excited for the opportunity,” she said.
Cuomo noted in his announcement: “As technology continues to shape the landscape of our economy, we must reimagine our classrooms into modern centers of learning so that our students are prepared for the jobs that meet the demands of tomorrow.”
©2016 The Daily Star (Oneonta, N.Y.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.