New York City will invest $670 million in technology for city schools, including devices, software, and wiring to improve connectivity, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday.
Of that sum, the largest allocation—$650 million—will be spent over five years in a capital investment to wire city schools and purchase new hardware to keep pace with the “emerging ‘tech ecosystem,'” the mayor’s office explains in a release. The remaining $20 million will be invested in new devices and software to increase classroom connectivity.
In the coming year, $150 million will be spent to help schools upgrade their broadband internet access and purchase new hardware. “As of this school year, 99 percent of our schools have a high-bandwidth fiber optic connection to the internet and are continually upgrading their capabilities,” the announcement says.
The mayor’s intention is to help “close the achievement gap and lift up students in every neighborhood,” according to the announcement.
New York has taken a leadership role in several technology initiatives. Over the past year, it has held hack-a-thons to encourage developers and education technology companies to compete to solve some of its difficult issues—like building apps to close the gap in middle school math achievement, and to make school selection easier for 8th graders. The city’s first lady has even launched a challenge for developers to find new ways to connect children to mental health services and emotional supports they may need.
De Blasio said the budget “makes strategic investments to link our schools to the innovators that drive our tech ecosystem, creates career pipelines from our high schools to top-tier firms, and exposes kids to the latest technology from the time they start pre-K to the day they graduate college.”
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who was appointed by de Blasio, applauded the move with her own statement: “Integrating hands-on and project-based learning into everyday learning adds tremendous value to a child’s academic growth, and cultivates critical thinking skills that are crucial for success.”