Local school to receive funds for security upgrades

Mar. 6—Three local school districts will receive funding for high-tech security.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in a media release the approval of 59 Smart Schools Investment Plans focused on reimagining education in an evolving age and boosting school security. The approved plans, totaling $27 million, are part of the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act, a sweeping education technology program.

The Smart Schools Review Board met March 5, for the 21st time to consider investment plans submitted by school districts and special education schools, the release said. The board is composed of the state Budget Director, the State University of New York chancellor, and the State Education Department commissioner.

The plans approved by the board were submitted by 53 school districts and two special education schools. Projects include $21 million for high-tech security, $4.4 million for classroom technology, $1 million for prekindergarten classrooms, $604,000 for school connectivity, and $37,000 for nonpublic schools' classroom technology and school connectivity.

According to the release, Bainbridge-Guilford will receive $365,787, Otselic Valley will receive $219,594 and Sidney will receive $218,000 for high tech security. High-tech security tools supported by the Smart Schools Bond Act include entry control systems, video systems and emergency classroom notification systems. These upgrades will enhance the safety of New York schools, helping to ensure that students are able to learn in a secure environment.

Sidney Central School Superintendent Eben Bullock said the district will use the money it will receive to upgrade the high school's public address system. Every clock will be replaced with an high-definition screen and speaker to replace the school's "very antiquated" system, he said. The 67 classrooms will receive 18-inch display clocks with speakers, while the hallways will receive 11 28-inch display clocks with speakers. The district will also install 12 signboards throughout the school, including in the auditorium, gymnasium and cafeteria, to keep students and faculty up-to-date on information. The new public address system will allow the school to broadcast information to certain rooms, areas or the whole school and will show flashing information on the screens.

In 2014, state residents approved the investment of $2 billion in its schools through a Smart Schools Bond Act, the release said. Following the proposal of the Bond Act, the Smart Schools Commission was established to gather information on strategies for how schools can most effectively invest the bond funds. This advisory commission recommended a focus on expanding robust broadband and wireless connectivity and utilizing transformative technologies. The plans approved today by the Smart Schools Review Board reflect many of the best practices identified by the commission.

Bullock said the district qualified for $1.3 million in Smart Schools funding and spent some money to secure the vestibules in the elementary and middle/high school buildings. "It's a dollar for dollar match," he said. "When we spend a dollar we get it back."

He said he hopes the district can complete the work at the high school during the summer.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.