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Jan 2, 2018 2:30 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Technological Upgrades Planned For Westhampton Beach Schools

Westhampton Beach Assistant Superintendent Bill Fisher discusses the New York Smart Schools Bond Act. KATE RIGA
Jan 2, 2018 3:59 PM

The Westhampton Beach School District aims to ring in the new year with plans for technological upgrades across its three schools.

The district has been awarded $216,733 of $2 billion in reimbursable state funding that’s available through the New York Smart Schools Bond Act passed by taxpayers in 2014 to improve educational technology and infrastructure. As there was no set deadline for when they must spend the money, Westhampton Beach Board of Education members said they spent some time investigating the most dire needs of the district’s three schools.

According to Assistant Superintendent Bill Fisher, the district plans to spend $111,233 on 37 new 70-inch interactive screens for classrooms, and the remaining $105,500 on upgrading the security cameras in the schools, as well as buying 36 new ones.

The new screens are expected to run approximately $3,000 each and boast a 60,000-hour lifespan, according to officials.

As for the security cameras, the board intends to use the money to update all existing camera infrastructure, digitizing the entire system. Board members also plan to supplement the existing network with 22 new exterior cameras and 14 new interior cameras across the elementary, middle and high schools, along with the necessary wiring.

The district needs to purchase the equipment before seeking reimbursement from the state, Mr. Fisher explained. He added that the funds will not come from any specific budgetary line item.

“This will not ultimately affect local taxes or the school budget,” Board of Education member Jim Hulme emphasized at a recent meeting.

The board has already completed multiple steps in obtaining the funds, including submitting a technology plan and survey, preparing a preliminary plan, and getting board approval of that plan in December. The preliminary plan is currently posted on the district website, www.westhamptonbeach.k12.ny.us, and officials will solicit feedback until Friday, January 12.

Once that period closes, the board will set a date for a public hearing on its preliminary plans. Most of the steps after the hearing deal with adjusting and polishing the plan until the board ultimately submits the finished request to the New York State Education Department.

It was not immediately clear when the district would be able to complete the upgrades; Mr. Fisher said he cannot predict when the district will secure final approval from Albany. “NYSED requires a multiple-step review, and it is not clear on how often the review committee will meet,” he wrote in an email on Tuesday. “Once the project is approved, the district would work to implement the changes immediately.”

He added that he expects the district to receive reimbursement within three months of submitting the final plan.

“These changes will really put us in a comfortable place and greatly improve our campuses,” Westhampton Beach Schools Superintendent Michael Radday added.

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