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Friday, 10 February 2017 15:42

$2.7m Headed to Saratoga Schools

By | Education
$2.7m Headed to Saratoga Schools
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Springs City School District is one of 65 districts across the state most recently sharing in the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act fund that was approved by voters in November 2014. The district is receiving $2,738,126 to provide infrastructure, security, and classroom information technology updates for both public and non-public schools within the District. According to Joseph Greco, K-12 Director of Math, Science, and Technology Integration, the person really behind the win was David L’Hommedieu, Assistant Superintendent for Information Technology and Operational Innovation, who oversaw the application process, but overall it was a team effort. “It’s a pretty grueling process, as with any grant,” said Greco. “It took a couple of turns to get state approval. Lot’s of t’s to cross and i’s to dot, and a strong team led by Dave making sure all necessary stakeholders were involved.” The District has begun the ordering process of the selected items and is looking forward to the positive impact this plan will have on our school community. “These technology updates will improve the District’s wireless network and security systems, as well as provide a significant number of student technology devices to support best practices of instruction,” said L’Hommedieu. Greco said the security includes an increase in internal and external security cameras and shatterproof glass at the main entrance, for example. The vast majority of the funds, however, is for instructional technology. “We want to make sure as we get more devices with Internet in the classroom,” said Greco, “we are upping the game, to improve skills in the classroom such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and problem solving. Enhance what’s going on in the classroom, not just digitize it. Really, what we’re looking for is teaching students not just to consume, but also to create.” Greco also has perceived that “digital natives” who have grown up with technology don’t have a large understanding of it because they are naturals at consuming it. “It’s similar to me with cars,” he said. “Yes, I can drive a car, but if something went mechanically wrong with it, I would be at a loss. The technology has changed so rapidly that we haven’t been as responsive as we could so students can become self-sufficient.” So the district will be introducing more devices and tablets into the elementary schools. For secondary, there will be more tablets and Chromebooks with the idea there to start working toward individual devices for each student through middle and high school. Part of the learning will include teaching students to use technology responsibly, learning how to be a digital citizen so they can take those devices home. Additionally, the downsizing of the desktops would enable the district to eliminate most computer labs and repurpose the space; provide places for the students to be able to tinker and create at some point down the road. “We’re already starting to replace smart boards with smart flat screen TVs, so you won’t have the projector any more,” said Greco. “There’s still a touch screen interactive flat panel, and the student devices will be able to interact with the smart screen devices. We could both edit the Google doc together and project their stuff out into a presentation and lead class discussions based on information they are creating.” According to Greco, the district is currently in the process of following NYS regulations regarding quotes and bids for purchasing various devices, with the hope that by Fall 2017 they will be in the hands of students. “There is a portion of the funds, too, that is being spent on infrastructure,” added Greco, “making sure there is wireless throughout the district, increasing some of our server size, and making sure our infrastructure can handle the additional traffic.” According to a statement released by the district, additional thanks go to the Board of Education, SSCSD staff, and the community for their support throughout this process. For more information about the district’s specific Smart School plan, visit www.saratogaschools.org/smartschools.
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