Mount Vernon, NY – Westchester County Legislators Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon) and Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) joined a number of other elected officials along with community leaders at a rally Wednesday, October 29th to announce their support of the “Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014,” to fight “digital divide.” The rally took place at 1 PM in the parking lot of the Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education offices, 165 North Columbus Avenue, Mount Vernon, NY.
Featured speakers at the rally included Legislators Williams and Jenkins; New York State Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Jeff Klein and George Latimer; and New York State Assembly members Sandra Galef, Shelley Mayer and Gary Pretlow. Derickson K. Lawrence, chair of the Westchester County Homeowners’ Coalition, the sponsoring organization of the event also spoke.
The “Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014” is Proposition #3 on the November 4 ballot.
“It is crucial that parents and members of the public know that this bond proposition, which will greatly benefit students in urban school districts around Westchester, will need support on Election Day,” said Williams.
Williams noted that school districts need to quickly develop ways to inform parents about why passing the proposition will benefit schoolchildren and help lower property taxes by paying for long-term technology infrastructure costs.
“This is an important opportunity to provide state-of-the-art technology and learning tools, plus new classrooms, for our students, and we cannot miss out on it,” said Jenkins.
The “Smart Schools Bond Act” is a plan initiated by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and backed by the state legislature that will allow the State to borrow $2 billion for increased technological support for public school classrooms state-wide and permanent classrooms for pre-kindergarten students now in temporary quarters, as well high-tech security equipment for schools.
Larger, more urban school districts with historically lower dollar-to-pupil spending will receive greater proportions of the proposed funding in order to help alleviate what is known as a “digital divide,” in which students living in affluent communities have greater access to computers, advanced software and other technological learning enhancements in classrooms than students in less affluent communities.
In Westchester, the State will send $23,965,851 to Yonkers and $7,961,129 to Mount Vernon if the voters approve the “Smart Schools Bond Act” on the November 4 ballot. In total, Westchester public school districts will be sent $61,742,607 if the bond is passed. The funding is a one-time revenue source for spending within certain guidelines. A “Smart Schools Commission” will advise school districts on best funding targets for various educational technology needs, and districts will spend their money with competitive bidding. Allocations not spent will revert back to the State Treasury.