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De Blasio Announces $650M Tech Upgrade for City Schools

By Eddie Small | May 22, 2014 11:09am
 The city plans to put $650 million over the next five years toward upgrading Internet access in New York schools.
The city plans to put $650 million over the next five years toward upgrading Internet access in New York schools.
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BELMONT — Mayor Bill de Blasio announced $650 million in technology investments for city schools on Wednesday at the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering, including better internet access.

The city also plans to expand the scope of a pilot program in software engineering, doubling the amount of seats available to students across the five boroughs.

Over the next five years, the city will use the money to purchase new hardware and upgrade its broadband internet access. This investment includes $150 million in the upcoming year.

Officials will also allocate $20 million in the coming year toward new devices for schools, such as laptops, tablets, smartboards, printers, scanners, routers, hubs and software.

Additionally, the city will spend $20 million to expand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs at CUNY community colleges.

"It will grow to $50 million a year in the following years," de Blasio said at the event.

Ben Grossman, principal at BASE, was thrilled with the new funds.

"The languages of computer programs, it’s the new literacy," he said. "And students who don’t have access to this — good access and high-speed access — are at a huge disadvantage when going into the workforce."

The city plans to increase technology education for students and teachers as well. Officials intend to double enrollment in the Software Engineering Pilot, a program that educates students about web development, computer programming and physical computing. The Department of Education is working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help teachers use online courses to support their students and their own professional development.

"The technology in our classrooms has to keep pace with the real world," de Blasio said in a statement. "The ability of our kids to succeed and compete depends on it."

Grossman stressed that there was a lot of talent in The Bronx, despite the fact that graduating software engineers is not usually what comes to mind when people think about high schools in the borough. He was grateful for a chance to counter this stereotype.

"It’s great to have resources and attention," he said, "and people really looking at what we’re doing."