By Bill Parry
Western Queens lawmakers are applauding the overwhelming approval of the Smart Schools Bond Act by voters statewide on Election Day.
The measure would allow the state comptroller to issue and sell bonds up to $2 billion. The revenue would then be spent to replace classroom trailers with permanent classroom space and upgrade educational technology equipment.
“For years I have fought to get trailers removed from our schools and replaced with safe, permanent buildings,” state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) said. “All students deserve the best educational facilities possible, and no student can perform at their highest level in substandard space. Passing the Smart Schools Bond Act gives us the resources to do that important work.”
Some 700 school districts across the state will draw up spending plans that will be submitted to a review board, although there are no details on when the application process would begin. In addition to technology equipment like interactive whiteboards, desktop or laptop computers and tablets and high-speed broadband or wireless internet, funds could be used to install high-tech security features in school buildings or construct or modernize educational facilities to accommodate pre-kindergarten programs.
The bond act passed with 1.6 million votes, according to the Board of Elections, with nearly 49 percent of voters saying yes and nearly 30 percent voting against the proposition.
“Election Day was a victory for students,” Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) said. “New Yorkers across the state voted for additional funding for schools. For those of us who fought for the Smart Schools Bond Act, Election Night was proof that the people of New York care about bringing our schools into the 21st century.”
Moya, who teamed up with Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst) for a rally at PS 19Q in Corona last month, has nearly 125 trailers being used as classrooms at schools in his district, one of the largest concentrations in the city.
“In Queens, the funds raised through the Smart Schools Bond Act will be used to get rid of the crumbling classroom trailers that are used in overcrowded schools throughout the borough.,” he said. “After all, how can we expect to prepare our students for the economy of the future if they’re learning in the classrooms of the past?”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4538