Districts across New York should look to expand online learning with proceeds from the Smart Schools Bond Act, but should also focus on careful planning, a three-person committee appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo recommended in a report released Monday.
New York City expects to receive $800 million if voters approve the bond next week. Mayor Bill de Blasio is counting on that money to expand facilities for pre-kindergarten, reduce the number of classroom trailers, and to spend on new software and other technology upgrades, freeing up almost $500 million to help reduce class sizes.
Gov. Cuomo convened the panel in April to offer recommendations for what districts should do with their own allocations. Harlem Children’s Zone President Geoffrey Canada and Auburn school district superintendent Constance Evelyn served along with Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt — an appointment that some watchdogs called inappropriate, since his company could benefit from more schools purchasing Google products.
The panel’s recommendations are generic, and include expanding the use of tablets and interactive whiteboards, providing schools with high-speed broadband, and increasing students’ access to “blended learning” programs that combine online and in-person teaching. The report also notes that districts will need to plan useful teacher training sessions and set clear goals if they decide to spend money on expensive devices.
“Even the best-laid plans will run into hiccups along the way, and the most successful school districts will be the ones who are able to adjust their technology plans along the way,” the report says.
Here’s the full report: