Mayor Outlines Tech Investment For Schools

BY JOE MARVILLI
Staff Writer

Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated Internet Week by detailing technology investments for the City’s schools.

On May 21, the Mayor announced a $20 million investment in new devices and software to increase classroom connectivity, as well as $650 million dedicated to wiring City schools and securing new hardware to keep up with the ‘technology ecosystem.’

“The technology in our classrooms has to keep pace with the real world. The ability of our kids to succeed and compete depends on it,” de Blasio said.

There are five tiers to the Mayor’s plan, all of which focus on a different area in the crossroads between technology and education.

The $20 million stipend for new devices and software will help schools purchase new software and up-to-date devices like tablets, laptops, scanners, printers and SMART boards, as well as network devices like routers and hubs.

An investment of $650 million will be doled out over the next five years, with $150 million set for the coming fiscal year. Even though 99 percent of City schools have a high-bandwidth fiber optic connection to the Internet, the funding will go towards continuous upgrades to broadband web access.

Another $20 million from the City will be dedicated towards expanding Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs at CUNY community colleges.

For the 2014-2015 school year, the City will double the number of students taking part in the Software Engineering Pilot program, for a total of 2,800. This course involves a multi-year curriculum, lasting from grades 6 to 12, that gives students detailed experiences in computer programming, web development and physical computing.

To help support the education of students across the five boroughs, the Dept. of Education Division of Teaching and Learning will work to train teachers and school leaders in technology. Through a partnership with Code.org and CSNYC, the iZone’s Blended Learning Institute will prepare 120 teachers by 2015 using a nationally recognized curriculum in introductory Computer Science.

“Having technology in our classrooms brings excitement to learning and helps our students prepare for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” DOE Chancellor Carmen Fariña said.

Education committee chair, Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), was pleased to see the administration focusing on keeping the classroom up-to-date in the 21st century. He said that often, the City Council passes technology legislation, but the schools cannot support it due to a lack of hardware, but this investment aims to change that.

“That’s the future and we need kids to be prepared for the future,” he said. “Computer literacy is a big part of it. I’m glad to see the Mayor investing in the future in this way.”

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, jmarvilli@queenstribune.com, or @JoeMarvilli.