Smart Schools Bond Act on election ballot

| WTEN

ALBANY, N.Y. – Proposition 3, or the Smart Schools Bond Act, will be on New York Stat ballots on Tuesday.

November 4 is Election Day. Included on NY ballots will be the Smart Schools Bond Act. If approved, it would authorize the state to borrow $2 billion for various education purposes.

The money could be used for high speed internet access and devices such as laptops and tablets. School districts could also use it for building and renovating Pre-K classrooms.

Officials said the money would be distributed using existing school-aid formulas. Governor Andrew Cuomo first introduced the act during his State of the State address. It was one of the only things the New York State United Teachers union agrees with him on.

“We’ve seen so many budget cuts, and it just seems the last thing that a school district would look into is doing something like this,” NYSUT EVP Andrew Pallotta said. “And now this provides that opportunity, so we say go for it.”

Proponents said it will help prepare students for the 21st Century. Opponents, however, said teachers haven’t been trained on how to use the new equipment.

“It’s probably the most poorly conceived and wasteful bond proposal we’ve had in New York in over 20 years,” Empire Center President EJ McMahon said.

McMahon’s concerns were echoed by several school groups and education advocates who point out that much of the new technology would be outdated by the time the state paid for it.

“There was no assessment of whether we actually need to spend $2 billion on classroom technology or on new Pre-K classrooms which is another chunk of this money,” he said.

Others have been critical of the exact wording of Proposition 3 and said it’s misleading.

The New York State School Boards Association hasn’t taken a position on the Proposition.

“I’ve heard from districts that said its seen money alright,” Tim Kremer with the NYS School Board Associations said. “Its money that we’re going to spend something and buy some stuff but eventually we’re going to have maintenance issues we’re going to have replacement issues. We’ll have professional development issues.”

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