Board Members Ask for Help Spending $3.6 Million on Technology in Watertown Schools

Community members will get a chance to say how they would spend extra bond money.

by Brian Kelly, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y. / October 19, 2016 0

(TNS) — WATERTOWN, N.Y. — The Watertown City School District Board of Education is looking for public input on how to best use $3.6 million in state funding for technology.

A forum to gather ideas on needs for the district will be from 5 to 6 p.m. on Nov. 1 in the district office's conference room at H.T. Wiley Intermediate School.

The money is available through the state's Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014, a ballot initiative approved by voters that authorized the issuance of $2 billion in general obligation bonds to finance improved educational technology and infrastructure across the state. The funds are in addition to districts' regular operating budgets.

The purpose of the funding is to improve learning and opportunity by funding capital projects to install high-speed broadband or wireless internet connectivity for schools, as well as allow districts to acquire learning technology or facilities, including such items as interactive whiteboards, computer servers and desktop, laptop and tablet computers.

The funding can also be used to construct, enhance and modernize educational facilities to accommodate pre-kindergarten programs and to provide instructional space to replace classroom trailers. Districts can install high-tech security features in school buildings and on campuses, including video surveillance, emergency notification systems and physical access controls.

Superintendent Terry N. Fralick said the board has already identified a need to upgrade security at all of its buildings and the district wants to upgrade certain technology, including bringing wireless technology to each of its buildings. But it is also looking for ideas from the community and staff members regarding additional needs.

"Our Board of Education, myself included, are not experts in this area," Mr. Fralick said. "We want to get input so we can make good decisions."

There will be experts on hand during the forum to assist discussion in the areas of instructional technology, including items such as current and future applications, installation and costs. Mr. Fralick said representatives from Jefferson Community College and the Mohawk Regional Information Center, which provides instructional technology and technology support services to school districts, will attend.

"They can give us a lot of insight into where our priorities should be going into the future," Mr. Fralick said.

The funding can be tapped incrementally, so not all future needs have to be addressed immediately. Districts must pay for the improvements up front, with reimbursement coming from the state upon completion.

©2016 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.), distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.