It’s the gift that keeps on giving and giving.
New York State on Wednesday approved funding for the investment plans of 45 school districts and two special education schools from part of the proceeds from the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014.
The Smart Schools Review Board approved $24.8 million of funding for projects that include upgrading classroom technology and connectivity and providing high-tech school security, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced.
“In an era of remote learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and as we increase our focus and vigilance on public safety, this state funding is more timely and critical than ever,” Hochul said in a statement. “These actions by the Smart Schools Review Board help ensure that students have the tools and technology they need for safe and effective learning, whether in schools or at home.”
In 2014, voters approved a $2 billion bond referendum to finance educational technology and infrastructure and provide students access to the latest technology and connectivity.
The board was established in order to look at the best strategies on how schools can most effectively use the bond funds. It is composed of the Director of the Budget, the Chancellor of the State University of New York and the Commissioner of the State Education Department.
“The Smart Schools Bond Act is a valuable resource for New York schools, helping with purchases for new technology, connectivity and security upgrades which are all more timely than ever,” said state Budget Director Robert Mujica. “As technology becomes more central to learning, and as we continue to improve the security of our public spaces, this funding will go a long way in keeping our schools up to date.”
Approved technology purchases under the bond act include computer servers, interactive whiteboards, tablets, desktop and laptop computers, and high-speed broadband and wireless connectivity. High-tech security tools that can be bought include entry control systems, video systems and emergency classroom notification systems.
“New York State is the premier leader in education,” said Deborah Stanley, SUNY’s interim chancellor. “And the Smart Schools Bond Act is further evidence that we invest in the potential of our young people, as the future workers and leaders of our state.”
Separately on Wednesday, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said, due to rising inflation sales tax collections by local governments rose 15.7% in April compared to the same month last year.
According to an analysis released by the comptroller’s office, local sales tax collections rose $242 million to $1.7 billion last month, compared to the same period in 2021.
“While local sales tax collections in April were strong throughout most of the state, the continued rise in the price of goods and services has increased the cost of doing business for many local governments,” DiNapoli said in a release. “My office is closely monitoring the impact that inflation is having on New York’s economy.”
New York City’s collections totaled $726 million last month, a year-over-year gain of 10.5%, an increase of almost $69 million.
Nearly every county in the state saw large year-over-year growth in sales tax revenue, due in part to recent high inflation rates. Oswego County saw the largest increase, logging a 113% rise while Schenectady County was the only one to see a drop, with collections falling 12.6%.