About the Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA)
The Smart Schools Bond Act was passed in the 2014-15 Enacted Budget and approved by the voters in a statewide referendum held during the New York State 2014 General Election on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. The Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA) authorized the issuance of $2 billion of general obligation bonds to finance improved educational technology and infrastructure to improve learning and opportunity for students throughout the State. The Herkimer Central School District has been allocated $953,082.00 for this purpose. This will be paid to the District by New York State as reimbursement for technology expenses under the plan. There is no deadline for when the funds must be exhausted by.
The purpose of the Smart Schools Bond Act is to improve learning and opportunity for public and nonpublic school students by funding capital projects to:
- Install high-speed broadband or wireless internet connectivity for schools and communities;
- Acquire learning technology equipment or facilities, including but not limited to interactive whiteboards, computer servers, and desktop, laptop, and tablet computers;
- Construct, enhance, and modernize educational facilities to accommodate prekindergarten programs and to provide instructional space to replace classroom trailers; and/or
- Install high-tech security features in school buildings and on school campuses, including but not limited to video surveillance, emergency notification systems, and physical access controls.
An amendment to the original Smart Schools plan was filed to add an additional item to the high tech security features. The additional item is camera licenses for the 66 cameras that are on the original plan. The total cost for those additional camera licenses is $16,567.
Smart Schools Bond Act Investment Areas
According to NYSED, funds provided by the SSBA must be used for projects that fit within these categories listed above. As such, the table below, outlines approximate budgeting for each of the investment areas. Of the money that is allocated to Herkimer CSD, the district is seeking approval of $456,000 in the categories outlined below.
|High-Tech Security Features||$296,000|
Pursuant to the requirements for the Smart Schools Bond Act, the planning process for developing and submitting a Smart Schools Investment Plan to the State Education Department must include consultation with parents, teachers, students, and community members. The following are ways that this requirement has been/will be met:
- Both building-level and district-level technology committees met a number of times to discuss the parameters of the SSBA and implications.
- Teacher feedback was solicited through district-wide electronic surveys to help to identify the district’s strengths and needs.
- The SSIP plan will be posted on the district website for a minimum of 30 days
- A public forum will be held prior to the March board of education meeting, and community comments considered.
Complete Investment Plan Process
- Complete NYSED Instructional Technology Survey (COMPLETE)
- Submit to MORIC for Review and Certification (COMPLETE)
- Submit to NYSED when Certified by RIC (COMPLETE)
- Receive Approval Letter from NYSED (COMPLETE)
- Post NYSED Tech Survey or Technology Plan on Website (COMPLETE)
- Develop Draft Smart Schools Investment Plan (COMPLETE)
- Post Plan on District Website (30 days prior to public hearing) (COMPLETE)
- Provide Notice to Public Regarding Hearing Date (2 weeks prior to public hearing)
- Host Public Hearing (May be at the same time as a regular BOE meeting)
- Receive Community Feedback
- Revise and Finalize SSIP Based on Feedback
- Receive Approval from District Board of Education for Preliminary Plan
- Note: If the SSIP needs to go through the Office of Facilities Planning, the Preliminary Review must be done before submission of the SSIP through the Portal as a project number will need to be provided
- Submit Plan through SSIP Portal within the SEDDAS Business Portal
- Receive Approval from Appropriate NYSED Offices as Needed
- Receive Approval from Smart Schools Review Board
- Post Plan to District Website
- Begin Purchase and Implementation Process
- Please note that this is done through a reimbursement model and it may take approximately 60 days for the district to receive monies after submitting for reimbursement.
- Resubmit Additional Investment Plans for Approval as Needed
Herkimer CSD realizes that without a reliable and robust computer network, it would be difficult to adequately support students, teachers, and administrators. Therefore, the district plans to use SMART School Bond Act funds to enhance the wired and wireless computer networks currently throughout the district.
According to the State Department of Education, “The Federal Communications Commission adopted the Second E-rate Modernization Order in December 2014, which established the minimum speed standard of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students for schools in the United States. To ensure that districts maximize the return on their investment in education technology and devices, Smart Schools Bond Act funds used for technology infrastructure investments must increase the number of school buildings that meet or exceed this standard.” Herkimer CSD currently has approximately 1200 students in grades K-12. Therefore, in order to meet the standard set forth by the FCC, Herkimer CSD needs to have a minimum connection speed of 120mbps. The district currently has a connection speed of 100mbps, but plans to increase this to 1gbps by June 2017.
Distribution of Funds in support of School Connectivity will be used to:
- Increase internet connectivity speed to 1gbps, to be completed by Jan 2017
- Addition of wireless access points throughout the district and switching devices to power them
- Upgrade of transmission lines between network devices to maximize internal transmission speeds
- Replacement of current servers nearing their end-of-life and not available for warranty extensions
- Replacement or upgrade current battery backup systems in server and sensitive data locations, to prevent data loss during times of power failure.
The Herkimer Central School District recognizes that technology devices within the classroom have the potential to greatly impact the learning of our students. Teachers work to use current technology tools to transform and innovate their teaching in order to actively engage all students in the learning process.
Instructional technologies are employed by teachers across all levels at HCSD. With these tools, teachers are able to present material in a clearer way, encourage student interaction with the content, develop innovate lessons and projects, and engage the hard-to-reach learners. Having reliable tools for instruction in each and every learning space is a priority for the district.
Students utilize a variety of mobile devices throughout their tenure at HCSD. These devices are used for personalization, remediation activities, content distribution, collaboration, and much, much more. Student access to mobile devices has become absolutely critical to many of the learning experiences that our teachers plan for their classes. Therefore, the district plans to continue to increase student access to mobile devices by purchasing and replacing current laptop computers, tablets, and thin-client devices.
Distribution of Funds in support of Classroom Technology will be used to:
- Purchase additional carts and mobile devices for students at the jr/sr high school.
- Expand current mobile device availability at the elementary school to include tablets in each primary level classroom, and grade-level sets for grades 3-6.
- Add 3D Printer and supplies to elementary library media lab
- Develop a makerspace within the graphics classroom at the jr/sr high school.
- Replace or upgrade current instructional technologies in classrooms
High-Tech Security Features
The safety of our students is of the utmost importance to the district. We currently have limited access to the building during all hours of the day, security cameras and recording equipment in the hallways and common areas, and electronic locks on major access doors. However, with recent advances in the security technologies, the security network at Herkimer needs to be upgraded.
Cameras currently cover the majority of common areas throughout the district. However, there are still a number of locations that need coverage, including external locations like sports fields and playgrounds. Some of our older cameras need to be replaced due to their age and quality of their recordings.
Building access has always been limited. Our current system is outdated and a bit limited in terms of the capability to restrict users, locations, and times for entry. The district plans to invest in an updated electronic locking and access system for both district buildings which will include multiple points of entry, restrictions based or user, location, and time, as well as integration with the camera security system.
Distribution of Funds in support of High-Tech Security Features will be used to:
- Upgrade security camera system, replace cameras, software (125K)
- Upgrade building access system, addition of 3 access doors (server, electronic locks, access panels, etc) (25k)
- Upgrade of intercom systems at both HES and HHS. (38K)
- Glazing (108k)
Ongoing professional development is critical to the success of technology implementations throughout the district. The district makes available a wide range of professional development opportunities for teachers, staff, and administrators. Trainings are offered through MORIC and Model Schools, and teachers have the ability to browse the online catalogue of sessions at any time. Topics include, but are not limited to, 21st Century Teaching tools, STEM, Apps for iPads, Flipped Classroom Teaching, Google Apps for Education, and much more.
There is currently one person in the district who is responsible for Technology Professional Development. Moving forward, the district plans to make professional development opportunities available through a variety of mediums and organizations in order to support the integration of new initiatives supported by the SSBA.
Private Schools within Public School Boundaries
The Smart Schools Bond Act provides that any district hardware purchases made using Smart Schools funds shall be lent, upon request, to students of non-public schools in the district. All students attending non-public schools are eligible to receive loans of classroom technology equal on a per pupil basis to the per pupil amounts spent on classroom technology for public school students (up to $250 per pupil).
The District will notify all non-public schools in the district of their student’s eligibility for technology loans similar to the process for textbooks, computer hardware, and software. The notification will include a date by which requests must be received by the district.
Similar to the Computer Hardware Loan Program, the Herkimer Central School District will retain ownership of these devices as well as bear responsibility for maintenance and repair. Children whose tuition is paid for under Article 89 of the Education Law are deemed to be receiving equitable services by virtue of the tuition payment, so no additional loans are necessary under the Smart Schools Bond Act.
Community members can send their comments on the SMART Schools Investment Plan to Ryan Orilio, Technology Coordinator, at 801 W. German Street, Herkimer, NY 13350, or by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org.