FULTON, NY – The Fulton Board of Education unanimously approved the Smart Schools Bond Act preliminary investment plan for the second phase at Tuesday’s (Feb. 9) regular board meeting.
The Smart Schools Bond Act was passed by voters in a referendum in November of 2014 and allotted $2 billion to NYS school districts to heighten learning through technological and infrastructure enhancements.
Of this money, Fulton City School District was allocated $3,971,619 for the intended purpose.
The first phase investment plan totaled roughly $595,385 and has been submitted but not yet been approved by the New York State Education Department.
The first phase investment plan focused mostly on technological devices such as student laptops, tablets, device carts, smart board replacements, PC replacements for immobile monitors at all buildings in the district as well as ten computers in the adult section and five computer and five tablets in the children’s section of the Fulton Public Library as well as some infrastructure purchases of wireless access points and a new core switch.
The second phase preliminary investment plan, however, focuses mainly on infrastructure with some facilities work with overall goals to “increase the ability to access technologies over our wireless network and provide equity among all technology communications closets with up time in the event of a power outage by replacing or upgrading existing battery equipment,” according to the presentation by Stephanie Maturo, director of information technology.
This preliminary second phase calls for $154,721 of spending on wireless access points, wiring for wireless access points, Liebert 6000 UPS (a battery for the event of a power outage) at the Education Center and switch equipment to support wireless.
Although there is a generator at the high school, Superintendent Bill Lynch said it is not meant to power the whole school in the case of a power outage. Instead, it is geared more for community use and focuses on the section of the school that houses the gymnasium, auditorium and cafeteria as a means to house members of the community in the case of an emergency.
Maturo added that to get to the density they would like, there is a need to add more wires.
For these reasons, Maturo said phase two is “critical to support what our future plans are.”
Many of these purchases for phase one and one purchase in phase two are repeating purchases that can be made each year as Superintendent Lynch added that there is no end date at this time.
After totaling the spending for both phase one and phase two investment plans, FCSD still has more than $3.2 million left to spend.
Seeing as the district is required to front the money for each investment plan and then be reimbursed, Maturo said they are being cautious with the spending of each phase.
Maturo also said one of the public’s main concerns regards how quickly the school will receive reimbursement, but because FCSD has been one of the most timely schools districts to submit investment plans, there is little known about how long this will take.
After submitting for phase one, the district heard back within two hours in need of making a minor correction said Maturo, adding that this may provide insight that the process is a responsive one.
At it’s current spot on the time line, the preliminary investment plan for phase two will remain posted on the school website for a total of 30 days before a public hearing is held and any revisions are made based on public input.
After the board approves the official investment plan, it will be submitted to Offices of Facilities Planning, an additional step only necessary in phase two because of the planned facilities work, and then submitted to the NYSED where it would need to be approved before purchase and implementation can begin.
Maturo said the work is really not that invasive and predicts it could be done as quickly as 3-4 weeks. Lynch added that the work can be done during second shift, after the instructional day as to be completed during the course of the school year.
Phase one is set to begin purchase and implementation as soon as it is approved and Maturo is hopeful that will be started by this summer.
To review the Smart Schools Bond Act at FCSD, visit the school website here.