Eastport South Manor school administrators might soon have to decide how to spend some $2.2 million that could be allocated to their district under the Smart Schools Bond Act that passed on Election Day.
The Smart Schools Bond Act is a state-wide program that authorizes the sale of up to $2 billion in bonds for technology, high-speed internet connectivity and high-tech security features for school buildings. The money can also be spent to add classroom space for prekindergarten programs, according to a document released by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s office.
ESM Assistant Superintendent Rich Snyder told Board of Education members and those present at last week’s meeting, held on November 5, about the potential funding that the district is now eligible to receive. Before any funding is released, however, the district must apply to Albany and explain how it intends to use the money.
Mr. Snyder also said that minimal information had been released about the bond, and how school districts can apply for the money. He did note that he would be working with Sally Neumann, the district’s technology director, to find the most economical and utilitarian way to spend the state funds.
“This will not have an impact on local taxpayers,” Mr. Snyder told those present at the meeting.
According to the proposition that appeared on ballots across the state, the funds can be spent on the following items: white boards; tablets and laptops; internet upgrades; the expansion of prekindergarten programs; and to replace temporary portable classrooms with permanent ones. Those districts looking to upgrade their security features can also apply for the funding.
Eastport South Manor is not the only local school district that can potentially benefit from the new funding. The Westhampton Beach School District can apply for up to $216,733 in funding, Hampton Bays can receive up to $494,867, and East Quogue can apply for up to $119,615. The Remsenburg-Speonk School District qualifies for up to $56,703 in funding and the Quogue School can apply for up to $31,741.
Also at last week’s meeting, Ms. Neumann presented an update about new tech equipment being utilized throughout the ESM district. These new gadgets are funded by the remainder of $7 million that was set aside from a $24 million excel bond from 2007.
Mr. Snyder said the tablets and computers purchased this year are the final purchases made with that money. The remainder of the funding, he noted, went to infrastructure upgrades, the purchase of security cameras and the rewiring the district’s servers, among other things.
The district’s kindergarten students, as well as its first- and second-graders, have been utilizing iPads for a variety of lessons. Ms. Neumann noted that one of her goals is to ensure that all students are well-versed in the different computers and tables.
At last month’s Board of Education meeting, for example, second-graders demonstrated how to scan a QR code—similar to a bar code—with their iPads. The QR code acts like a weblink and takes those who scan it to a specific web page or video. In this case, the second-graders created an audio/visual book review in class, and when board members scanned the QR codes at the meeting, they were able to view and listen to the work of the students.