A public hearing on the district's plan for the initial use of Smart
Schools technology funding from the state will be held as part of the Board
of Education's Feb. 27 meeting at Birchwood Elementary School. Phase I of
the district's Smart Schools Investment Plan focuses on replacing the
district's aging security camera system.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m., and the public hearing will take place near the start of the agenda, following a student presentation. It will include a presentation on Phase I of the plan and an opportunity for community members to provide feedback.
New York voters in 2014 approved the statewide Smart Schools Bond Act referendum, which authorizes the state to borrow up to $2 billion to finance technology improvements in schools throughout the state. Each district was allocated a certain amount to invest in technology, and Niskayuna's portion is approximately $1.5 million.
The use of Smart Schools funding does not require any local contribution from school districts. Phase I of the district's plan calls for spending $488,000 to replace the security camera system throughout the district.
A total of 220 cameras and seven network video recording servers would be purchased. This would replace the current aging system with one that features higher resolution cameras, better coverage, an improved user interface for administrators and a longer time period that video is archived.
A number of situations in recent years have pointed to a need for a higher quality camera system with more capabilities, including the ability to access archived video for a longer time period. Repair and replacement of the current system is no longer viable or cost-effective.
The state Smart Schools funding is designed for investments in four areas: high-speed broadband or wireless internet connectivity for schools; learning technology equipment or facilities; construction or modernization of educational facilities; or high-tech security features such as cameras.
The district has prioritized the use of its $1,494,855 Smart Schools allocation for long-term investments that would be difficult to finance solely with local funds, rather than devices that have a relatively shorter useful life. Plans for subsequent phases are likely to be used to improve high-speed broadband and wireless internet connectivity in the schools.
The draft Smart Schools Investment Plan Phase I is available on the website right here.
In addition to the public hearing on Feb. 27, members of the public can submit feedback on the plan to district leaders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the Feb. 27 public hearing and a 30-day comment window, the plan will be finalized and submitted to the State Education Department.
The district anticipates receiving state approval in time to begin installing the cameras in the fall of 2017.