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Smart Schools Bond Act

Questions about the Smart Schools Program? Please contact the New York State Education Department Office of Educational Management Services by phone at (518) 474-6541 or email or the NERIC at smartschools@neric.org.
Capital Project questions? Please call the New York State Education Department Office of Facilities Planning at (518) 474-3906.
Visit the NYSED Smart Schools resource page for more information.

 

News and information

*NEW* Smart Schools reimbursement through NYSED Business Portal

The reimbursement system for Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA) expenditures is now available on the NYSED Business Portal and is accessible to all school districts with approved Smart Schools Investment Plans (SSIPs). This is where all submissions for reimbursement will be made. School districts with approved SSIPs should have received notification via e-mail from NYSED that the system has been opened. 

More details about how to navigate this system within the NYSED portal and answers to frequently asked questions you might have can be found at the NYSED Smart Schools resources page.

Smart Schools Review Board announcements

The Review Board has released a list of the approved Smart Schools Bond Act plans as well as associated documents and the connectivity waiver. Visit the links below to learn more.

SSBA Hardware, Software, License and Fees Policy

Subscription fees, product or equipment leases, professional development, maintenance or support costs (other than software upgrades), fees or other administrative costs are ineligible costs under the Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA). These items are not eligible as they are considered operational costs, not capital expenditures. SSBA funds cannot be utilized for soft (or operational) costs as they would not be eligible for the State Capital Bonds that will support the program. Districts will be required to have such costs funded through other sources, such as local funding or the federal E-Rate program.

Smart Schools funds may only reimburse the cost of an actual device or hardware and the licenses or core operating software or extended replacement warranties needed to enable the hardware to operate and to directly support the intended educational purpose(s) of the SSBA plan.

Licenses, software and warranties that are purchased on an annual basis may be initially purchased with SSBA funds along with the hardware, provided such bundling of costs is reasonable and customary; however any future renewals or riders must be funded with other resources.

Multi-year software upgrade plans and extended replacement warranties may be purchased with the SSBA funds at the same time as the initial hardware purchase, if they are required to enable the hardware to operate and to directly support the intended educational purpose(s) of the SSBA plan. Please indicate the length in years of the software upgrade agreement clearly in the appropriate narratives.

Read NYSED's complete Smart Schools Bond Act Implementation Guidance.


NERIC secures Smart Schools CoSer

Smart Schools CoSerNERIC has secured a new CoSer from NYSED to support districts with the acquisition of the technology outlined in their Smart Schools Investment Plans (SSIP). Click here or on the image (at left) to view an overview of the CoSer.

NERIC has also created a survey to compile necessary information from districts interested in participating with this program. Access the survey here.

If you have any questions, please contact Brian Carey, NERIC business services manager, at 518-862-5325 or brian.carey@neric.org.

 

Smart Schools investment plan overview, submission application available

Click here to view the document school districts will use to guide the creation of their Smart Schools Investment Plans (SSIP).

As noted in the overview, the SSIP application can be accessed through the State Education Department Monitoring application that districts have used for Race to the Top projects. Click here to access the Smart Schools Bond Act (SSBA) Final Smart Schools Investment Plan (SSIP) submission application.

Smart Schools Investment Plan/SUNY teaching college input

As part of their Smart Schools investment planning, districts must verify that they have contacted the SUNY teacher preparation program from which they have made the most teaching staff hires over the past five years to request advice and input around this process.

Click here to download the sample cover letter districts can use when contacting a SUNY institution for input on their their Smart School Inverstment Plans (SSIP).

Questions? Email Smartschools@nysed.gov or call the Office of Educational Management Services at (518) 474-6541.

Visit the NYSED Smart Schools Bond Act resources page to view the questions and answers addressed during the Oct. 27, 2015 forum.

NERIC verification of district’s broadband service contract

There are several questions in the Smart Schools Investment Plan (SSIP) about broadband connections. In particular, the Smart Schools documentation refers to the current E-Rate recommendation for Internet access bandwidth, which is 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for every 1,000 school students, along with a broadband connection with scalable capacity up to 1 gigabit-ethernet (GBE) or 1,000 Mbps.

In anticipation of districts needing detailed information regarding their current connection, NERIC will be producing a detailed broadband connection report for all districts that contract through NERIC for dedicated broadband service (wide area network and Internet connections.) Districts will receive these reports later in the summer.

Broadband connectivity speeds waiver

Districts have indicated that, in some circumstances, meeting the E-Rate broadband connectivity speeds may be extraordinarily difficult. Based on this feedback, a waiver system has been developed. Criteria for the waiver is listed here. Districts that meet this criteria should contact the Smart Schools program office.

NERIC helps districts "transform" education in their schools

Smart SchoolsTransforming Schoolsis an interactive publication produced by NERIC to provide guidance around the process of instructional technology planning and the Smart Schools Bond Act.

Transforming Schools focuses on the “new classroom” and offers guidance on how k-12 educational leaders can help move their districts toward a “School 3.0” approach to teaching and learning.

Smart Schools Bond Act implementation guidance

Smart Schools Bond Act implementation guidance includes:

  • an overview of the state review process for Smart Schools Investment Plans
  • details on the school district application process
  • details about Smart Schools Bond Act allocation
  • allowable expenditures by category
  • information about installing high-speed broadband or wireless connectivity for schools and communities
  • information on acquiring learning technology equipment or facilities (devices)
  • information on constructing, enhancing or modernizing educational facilities to accommodate pre-kindergarten programs or to replace classroom trailers
  • information about installing high-tech security features in school buildings and on school campuses
  • requirements for stakeholder involvement
  • information about inclusion of nonpublic schools
  • treatment of Smart Schools Bond Act plans and funds

 

Overview

What is the Smart Schools Bond Act?

The Smart Schools Bond Act authorizes the issuance of $2 billion of general obligation bonds to finance improved educational technology and infrastructure to improve learning and opportunity for students throughout the State.

What types of projects would be eligible for funding?

Bond proceeds may be used for capital projects to:

  • Acquire learning technology equipment or facilities, including but not limited to interactive whiteboards, computer servers, and desktop, laptop, and tablet computers;
  • Install high-speed broadband or wireless internet connectivity for schools and communities;
  • Construct, enhance, and modernize educational facilities to accommodate pre-kindergarten programs and to provide instructional space to replace classroom trailers; and
  • Install high-tech security features in school buildings and on school campuses, including but not limited to video surveillance, emergency notification systems, and physical access controls.

Funding under the Smart Schools Bond Act will be distributed through a reimbursement model where the district pays for the technology and is then reimbursed by the state.

How will a school district apply for and receive the Smart Schools funding?

Smart Schools Bond Act implementation guidelines confirm that 100.12 Instructional computer technology plans will be a prerequisite for a Smart Schools application. The submission deadline for these certified plans will be announced soon.

Each district must submit a Smart Schools Investment Plan to the Smart Schools Review Board for approval. School districts are required to consult with parents, teachers, students, community members, and other stakeholders when developing this plan.

Once the Smart Schools Investment Plan is approved, the school district will be eligible to begin receiving grant funds, up to the amount of its Smart Schools allocation amount, to reimburse costs of the approved projects. The State Education Department will administer the grant funds.

 

Resources