Governor Cuomo Announces $400 Million for New York City Schools to Remove Portable Classroom Units and Construct Pre-Kindergarten Classrooms

September 6, 2018

From the office Governor Cuomo

Smart Schools Review Board Approves 52 Additional Smart School Investment Plans from Across the State Totaling $23.6 Million

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the approval of 53 Smart Schools Investment Plans, including $400 million to remove portable classroom units and construct pre-kindergarten classrooms in New York City schools. The funding is part of the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act - a sweeping initiative aimed at reimagining teaching and learning for the 21st century. The Act, first proposed by the Governor and overwhelmingly approved by voters, is helping schools to equip students with the skills they need to thrive and succeed in the global economy. Schools are investing these funds in education technology, development of pre-kindergarten classrooms, and construction of permanent instructional spaces to replace transportable classroom units. 

"Through the Smart Schools Bond Act, we are addressing inequality in our education system and ensuring that every child in New York has access to permanent, modern, and fully equipped classroom space," Governor Cuomo said. "This funding will provide the next generation of New Yorkers with the vital resources and skills they need to lead our state into the future."

Meeting for the tenth time today, the Smart Schools Review Board approved investment plans submitted by the New York City School District, 44 additional school districts and six special education schools.

A summary of the plans approved today is available here.

"As part of our investment in Smart Schools, we're providing significant funding to support pre-K programs in New York City schools," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "It's so important that children and their families have access to early childhood education to ensure success inside and outside the classroom in the future. We're continuing to address the issue of inequality in schools, because we believe all children should have equal opportunities to learn and grow."

The Smart Schools Bond Act allocates $783 million in funding to New York City schools. The Investment Plan approved today will use $400 million of that funding, including $300 million to remove transportable classroom units in five schools in Queens and the Bronx, and to construct permanent classroom space to accommodate students currently housed in these units. This investment will create classrooms and specialty spaces that will benefit over 7,400 students at the impacted schools.

The Investment Plan also commits $100 million to construct 36 pre-kindergarten classrooms at two sites in Brooklyn, one site in Queens and one site in Manhattan. These 36 classrooms will house approximately 650 children in communities with significant need of more pre-kindergarten classrooms.

At today's meeting, the Smart Schools Review Board also approved 52 plans from 50 additional school districts and special education schools across the state. This includes 28 plans that invest $8.8 million in classroom technology statewide, 26 plans that will support $5.5 million worth of school connectivity purchases, 25 plans supporting $9 million in high-tech security projects and one plan to spend $319,682 to remove transportable classroom units.

Plans approved to date by the Smart Schools Review Board total $867 million, supporting school districts in every region of the State. 

State Budget Director Robert F. Mujica said, "Access to appropriate learning space and pre-kindergarten impacts a child throughout his or her entire school experience. The plans approved today will help prepare students to participate in a twenty-first century economy."

State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, "Smart Schools Bond Act funding is improving supports for New York's students statewide. It's allowing teachers to better structure engaging lessons for all learners, and helping to give schools the tools to make learning fun. With today's approval, New York City is continuing its effort to bring greater equity for students through the building or modernization of Pre-K classrooms. All of these advances will help prepare our students with the 21st Century skills they need to succeed in college and the evolving workplace."

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, "We owe it to our students to provide a school environment that enables them to be innovative and become critical thinkers, and that is what Governor Cuomo's Smart Schools program works to create. Through technology and resources, New York State is helping students succeed, and my hope is that more students will move on to higher education and then their career pursuits. My congratulations to the schools receiving this funding."

In 2014, Governor Cuomo called for New York State to invest $2 billion in its schools through a Smart Schools Bond Act - an initiative that would finance educational technology and infrastructure, providing students access to the latest technology and connectivity needed to succeed and compete in the 21st century economy. New Yorker's agreed and voted in the Smart Schools Bond Act that November.

Following the proposal of the Bond Act, Governor Cuomo established the Smart Schools Commission to gather information on strategies for how schools can most effectively invest the bond funds. This advisory commission produced a final report recommending 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.

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