NY’s 2014-2015 budget includes the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act to be put before voters in the November 2014 election. Should it pass, Valhalla Union Free School District will receive a proportional share of the $2 billion based on the proportion of total formula school aid the district receives.
To receive the funds, Valhalla Union Free School District in the county of Westchester is required to submit a detailed plan to a state review board. In developing plans, the school district is required to consult with appropriate stakeholders, including Valhalla parents, teachers, students and Valhalla community members.
Valhalla Union Free School District Smart Schools Capital Projects can include:
- Acquiring learning technology equipment or facilities including interactive whiteboards; computer servers, desktop, laptop and tablet computers;
- Installing high-speed broadband or wireless Internet connectivity for schools and communities
- Constructing, enhancing and modernizing educational facilities to accommodate prekindergarten programs
- Providing instructional space to replace transportable classroom units
- Installing high-tech security features in school buildings and on school campuses, including installation of high-tech security features such as video surveillance, emergency notification systems and physical access controls
Valhalla District numbers for parents and taxpayers to consider:
Valhalla 2014 enrollment: 1536 students
|Funding type||Formula Aid||Hardware/Software||Pre-k||Bond Allocation|
|State Total||$21,280,313,886||$85,204,216||$385,034,734||$2 Billion|
Not enough money.
A significant problem with this bond is that a district might spend on getting broadband access and a few computers while another district may spend the money on building pre-k classroooms. There just isn’t enough money unless Valhalla Union Free School District already has high speed access, pre-k and a somewhat robust technology department. Even then, the legacy costs of maintaining additional salaries, pensions, benefits and technology will belong to Valhalla taxpayers. Similarly, Obama’s Race to the top program required all sorts of added services while providing pennies per student. As with this bond, it was big on “progressive” ideas and short on methods to pay for and maintain it. In the end it will likely result in higher local property taxes and state taxes (AKA- state aid).
3 technology spending examples:
Every district is required to have a technology plan. Most districts put these documents online for public review. Within this document you can get a general idea of the district equipment, class types, personnel and costs. Once you know what your local district has and roughly how much it costs, the proposed bond allocation may seem pointless or a jackpot. Keep in mind, mandatory pre-k costs for some districts will absorb a significant portion of the allocation.
|2013 spending*||$1.5 million/yr||$920,000||$550,000|
|Bond allocation||$1.9 million||$444,0000||$1.1 million|
*Spending numbers taken from the district’s technology plan, which may or may not reflect actual dollar amounts spent. Dollar amounts have been rounded.
As you can tell, some districts will be shorted while others will see a onetime increase depending on their current formula aid from the state. In the end, everyone will pay for the borrowed money.
Find the Valhalla Union Free School District technology plan with a pre-linked search at Bing.
Don’t vote without knowing your local plan.
The $2 billion Smart Schools Bond is set to be voted on in November 2014. That being said, Valhalla Union Free School District parents, taxpayers and community members should pay close attention to what the district is planning to do with this money. You may find the media pushing the idea that everyone is getting a laptop while your district has to buy a building for mandatory preschool services and decides it needs to install video surveillance. Then again, you may wind up with a front door that will stop a tank. Every district has different needs.