Rome among local schools receiving Smart School’s approval

Published Jul 17, 2017 at 4:00pm

The Rome school district has received approval for part of its Smart Schools Investment Plan, involving usage of about $1.11 million in state funds for technology-related connectivity infrastructure upgrades.

Approvals of several other area school districts’ Smart Schools Investment Plans for use of state funding also were announced Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Among them:

• Camden, $540,623 for school connectivity and classroom technology; Cazenovia, $316,650 for school connectivity and high-tech security; Herkimer, $349,300 for high-tech security; Madison, $25,000 for high-tech security.

New Hartford, $1,101,155 for school connectivity and classroom technology; New York Mills, $141,860 for classroom technology and high-tech security; Sauquoit Valley, $285,895 for school connectivity and classroom technology; South Lewis, $301,681 for classroom technology; Waterville, $108,749 for school connectivity and classroom technology.

The Rome district has been slotted for an overall $6 million state funding award through the state’s Smart Schools Bond Act, which is geared to help schools bolster technology and modernize classrooms.

The state approval Friday for the Rome district’s usage of about $1.11 million “encompasses a first phase of our technology planning which addresses infrastructure needs...to ensure that we have enough bandwidth, access points, and switches to handle an increased load of wireless connectivity,” explained Superintendent Peter C. Blake.

Blake said earlier this year that the district’s plan was to include three phases, including infrastructure upgrades in the first phase while the other two phases were to involve instructional technology.

“Our plans have not changed, however we have not begun the process for phase two or three because unlike other grant opportunities from the state, Smart Schools is a reimbursement program meaning we have to expend the money first prior to being reimbursed,” Blake noted. “We intend to complete phase (one) and then utilize the reimbursement money to continue moving forward.”

Blake, who became superintendent in July 2016, had noted that a prior Rome district plan was revised partly because it would have involved the district fronting the entire $6 million at once and then getting state reimbursement; he cited concerns it would have caused for the district’s budget.

Statewide, a total of 154 school investment plans were approved Friday by the state’s Smart Schools Review Board.

The board has gradually been reviewing and approving school districts’ plans including about four prior rounds of approvals. The plans involve funding received through the Smart Schools Bond Act that was approved by voters in November 2014.