Smart Schools Plan Seeks Savings, Opportunities
Efforts to provide every Schenevus Central School District student with 21st-century technology are a focus of the district’s $124,190 2017-18 Smart Schools Investment Plan.
The Smart Schools Bond Act, established by New York state in 2014, allocates state funding for educational technology and infrastructure for each school district in the state. Each school district may submit a plan, subject to approval by the state. The plan has been approved by the Board of Education, and will be presented in a public hearing on May 9 before it is formally submitted to the state Department of Education.
In the fall of 2016, Schenevus introduced a schoolwide program that gives each student access to a digital device (iPads for pre-kindergarten through second grade, Chromebook laptop computers for third through 12th grades).
Goals for the proposed 2017-18 Smart Schools plan are to introduce additional technology to and enhance the initiative introduced in the fall.
“The plan will round out the instructional technology pieces that are already in place,” Superintendent Thomas Jennings said.
The district plans to use Smart Schools funds to purchase a Google Virtual Reality classroom kit and 3D cameras for developing 3D content. The district also plans to purchase a drone mounted with a high-definition camera for student use in the science and technology classrooms.
“These tools will give Schenevus students the opportunity to get hands-on with exciting, cutting-edge technologies, which can spark their interest in learning,” Jennings said.
Another proposed addition is a set of Chromebook laptop computers that could be used in the pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade classrooms so students could begin learning basic keyboarding skills. The district’s goal is that Schenevus students would be capable of touch-typing at five words per minute by first grade.
The plan also includes some funding for replacement costs, and some hardware that would support the district’s technology infrastructure.
The district also has included adding and replacing some interactive projectors, which allow students to interact with a live display projected from a computer on the wall; installing new sound systems in the music classrooms; and installing a projector in the gymnasium for events such as graduation.
Schenevus’ Smart Schools plan is not part of the district’s 2017-18 budget and is separately funded by the state. The district continues to look for opportunities to save money and get the most out of the available funding, Jennings said.
Moving forward, the district plans to purchase software and replacement hardware through Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES so those purchases would be partially reimbursed through state aid.
“That’s going to save a lot of money over the long run,” Jennings said.