Emory Healthcare, with more than 24,000 employees and 11 hospitals, is the most comprehensive academic health system in Georgia. System-wide, it has 2,701 licensed patient beds, more than 2,800 physicians practicing in more than 70 specialties, serving metro Atlanta with 250 locations. It also provides services to greater Georgia through a joint venture at St. Francis–Emory Healthcare Hospital in Columbus, 10 regional affiliate hospitals, and its clinically integrated physician network.
Feb. 25, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
The Queens Chamber of Commerce has created a new council that aims to transform Queens into a new technology hub.
The Queens Tech Council, which launched Wednesday, aims to lure tech companies to the borough and make sure that existing businesses are in a position to embrace new technologies.
The council is comprised of representatives from major tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon as well as professionals from start-up companies and local businesses.
It was launched to help Queens bounce back from the economic crisis and to help local companies adapt to technological changes.
Tom Grech, the president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said that the world’s borough is an attractive option for tech companies due to its rich diversity, world-class universities and accessible transportation network.
“As our borough and region look to rebound from the pandemic, we need to be leveraging all the assets that Queens has,” Grech said.
“The Queens Tech Council will focus on making sure tech companies have everything they need to grow and thrive and that all Queens businesses have the tech resources required to remain competitive in an increasingly global marketplace,” Grech said.
Local government and community leaders will also form part of the council’s membership along with economic development groups like the Long Island City Partnership and the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.
The council will help Queens-based tech companies tap into resources and capital. It will also support companies in traditional industries to adopt new technologies into their business operations.
The Queens Chamber of Commerce said that Cornell Tech and the Business Incubator Association of New York State will help upskill Queens workers through the council in order to make them more employable.
Angela Pinsky, head of government affairs for Google in New York, said that the tech industry is expanding and offers plenty of job opportunities.
“Technology has not only helped different segments of the city stay connected through this pandemic, but employment in this still-growing sector can also continue to be a strong career path and an economic ladder for Queens residents and New Yorkers,” Pinsky said.
The announcement comes at a time when many companies have been forced to foster new technologies and rely on digital tools to do business due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Queens Tech Council wants to make sure that no companies are left behind as a result of these changes.
Elizabeth Lusskin, the president of the LIC Partnership, said it is essential that Queens remains at the forefront of technological innovation in order to rebuild its economy.
“The Queens Chamber’s Tech Council will go a long way in ensuring that tech businesses, whether they be large or small, new to Queens or lifelong residents, will have the tools they need to flourish right here in Queens,” Lusskin said.
The Queens Chamber of Commerce is the oldest and largest business association in Queens, representing more than 1,300 businesses and more than 125,000 Queens-based employees.
Coinbase, the largest US-based cryptocurrency exchange, revealed the scale of its business for the first time in paperwork for a long-awaited public listing that comes during a booming market for bitcoin and other digital coins.
Coinbase generated $1.3bn in revenue last year, up from $534m the year prior, enabling the company to turn a profit of $322m in 2020 after losing $30m in 2019, according to a filing with US securities regulators.
The company’s public debut, the first for a large US cryptocurrency exchange, is likely to rank as one of this year’s largest new tech listings and would mark a milestone for backers of the emerging sector. Coinbase is aiming to list in late March, said one person familiar with the company’s thinking.
Public investors have recently bought up shares in new market entrants such as Airbnb and DoorDash, fuelling a surge in public listings that has drawn comparisons to the 2000 dotcom bubble.
Coinbase filed for a direct listing rather than a traditional initial public offering, meaning it will not raise additional capital when it goes public.
Brian Armstrong, chief executive of Coinbase, warned that prospective investors should expect volatility in the company’s financials.
“We may earn a profit when revenues are high, and we may lose money when revenues are low, but our goal is to roughly operate the company at break even, smoothed out over time, for the time being,” Armstrong wrote in a letter attached to the filing.
Almost all of Coinbase’s revenue came from transaction fees last year, it said in the filing, underlining the company’s dependence on cryptocurrency trading fees.
Shares in the company have recently changed hands in private markets at prices that would give it a roughly $100bn valuation, according to people briefed on the trades, up from $8bn less than three years ago.
Coinbase could use those trades, in addition to input from public investors and its financial advisers, to determine its opening price on public markets.
Coinbase quickly grew into a favoured destination for cryptocurrency traders after it emerged from the Y Combinator start-up programme in 2012. It has recently touted services designed for large institutional investors and a series of acquisitions expanding its reach into software products for cryptocurrency developers.
The company said institutional activity made up almost two-thirds of its total trading volume in the fourth quarter, when transaction revenues jumped more than 70 per cent from the previous quarter to $476m. It said it had 2.8m monthly transacting users in 2020, almost tripling from the year prior.
Coinbase said it oversaw about $90bn in total assets stored on the platform, representing more than 11 per cent of the total market for cryptocurrencies at the end of last year. It has also made venture capital investments in more than 100 companies.
As trading volumes exploded this and last year, the cryptocurrency market has attracted increasing scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators, including over concerns about digital coins being used for money laundering.
In its filing, Coinbase noted the “extensive and highly evolving regulatory landscape” was a risk factor, and that its obligations to comply with various regulations would only increase as the exchange continued to expand internationally.
Among the company’s biggest investors, controlling more than 5 per cent of stock each, are Andreessen Horowitz, Paradigm, Ribbit Capital, Tiger Global Management, and Union Square Ventures.
Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Allen & Co and Citigroup are advising Coinbase on the direct listing.
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“I do think for a business like ours, which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us. And it’s not a new normal. It’s an aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible,” he told a conference on Wednesday.
The COVID-19 pandemic has delivered a mixture of blessings and curses to the tech world. Some companies such as those specializing in videoconferencing turned out to be saviors, making it possible for society to function — and occasionally thrive — while working at a distance. Others, however, like dev shops that build theatrical lighting control systems, have faced a world where demand for their services have dropped precipitously, sometimes to zero.
While it’s a bit early to know which shifts in usage and IT tactics will remain permanent, we can glean which companies are thriving now and are likely to continue doing so even after the pandemic fades.
One of the biggest shifts will be for those who work in offices, already a big part of the tech economy. Many companies are already reporting that they won’t return to requiring employees to report to the office each workday. They are embracing remote work, signaling that it will be the new normal. The savings of time and real estate are too large to ignore. Hybrid schedules — in which people meet in person several times per week, month, or quarter — will also be part of an experimental workplace mix.
Here is a look at which technology categories and strategies have benefitted by the shifts caused by the COVID-19 crisis, and which are likely to be rethought post-pandemic.
Winner: Videoconferencing — and its ecosystem
Treasury Department Secretary Janet Yellen is not big on bitcoin, a point she reiterated recently when she called the digital currency speculative and “inefficient.”
That doesn’t mean Yellen and the department she leads — which includes the Internal Revenue Service — don’t care about the cryptocurrency.
Now that it’s income tax filing season, people holding bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will see the IRS is actually very curious about a taxpayer’s cryptocurrency transactions.
So much so, they’ve tweaked the first page of the Form 1040 — the main piece of income tax paperwork taxpayers file yearly — to ask taxpayers if they’ve received, sold, sent, exchanged “or otherwise acquire[d] any financial interest in any virtual currency?”
A ‘yes’ could mean more taxes, but not necessarily so, tax experts told MarketWatch.
Cryptocurrencies keep getting a higher profile. Last week, bitcoin hit a market value above $1 trillion. As more people eye cryptocurrency, more people have to face up to the tax rules at play.
“It can be super, super easy, or it can be insanely complicated,” said Matt Metras of MDM Financial Services in Rochester, N.Y. Some transactions can spur multiple tax events at once, but tax professionals have scant IRS guidance to work off, he said.
Here’s a primer on some tax time issues when it comes to cryptocurrency.
The basics on how the IRS views cryptocurrency
The IRS treats cryptocurrency as property. It’s helpful to remember tax rules that also apply on stocks. If value goes up and the owner sells at a profit, they’ll likely pay capital gains tax.
If the sale for profit occurs within a year, the proceeds count as a short-term capital gain. That is taxed as ordinary income, which means it is lumped with other things like wages and taxed at whichever bracket the taxpayer falls into.
If the sale happens at least one year after the acquisition, then that’s a long-term capital gain. A single filer making under $40,400 and a married couple making under $80,800 get a 0% rate. Pretty much everyone else gets a 15% rate, with the rate applying to incomes up to $445,850 for individuals and $501,600 for married couples filing jointly.
That’s still a lower rate than five of the seven income tax brackets.
But cryptocurrency is volatile stuff. For example, shortly after bitcoin market value hit the $1 trillion mark, it neared a bear market.
So it’s important to remember the tax treatment for losses, said Ben Weiss, chief operating officer and co-founder of CoinFlip, which has bitcoin ATMs in 1,800 locations allowing people to buy and sell cryptocurrency.
If the value goes down and the investor sells at a loss, they get a capital loss deduction. When yearly annual loses exceed yearly annual gains, the taxpayer gets to also deduct up to $3,000/year. Excess losses beyond that can be carried forward to future tax years.
What if I get paid in cryptocurrency?
When you get paid for services via bitcoin BTCUSD, +2.19%, Ether ETHUSD, +0.08% or any other cryptocurrency, that counts as ordinary income. It doesn’t matter what the medium of payment is when it comes to the question of “whether the remuneration constitutes wages for employment tax purposes,” the IRS said.
Cryptocurrency that an independent contractor receives for work counts as self-employment income, the IRS noted. In both cases, the value of the cryptocurrency is measured by its U.S. dollar value on the date of receipt.
So, how do I respond to this IRS question?
Near the top of the 1040, the IRS wants a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to this question: “At any time during 2020, did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?”
Remember, a ‘yes’ doesn’t necessarily mean more taxes, experts said. For example, if someone just buys and holds crypto, there’s no tax event because there’s no ensuing sale for a profit or loss, Metras said. Someone like that could check ‘yes’ to the answer and not have to report the purchase in their return, he added.
Laura Walter, owner of Crypto Tax Girl just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, says you need to say ‘yes’ if, for example, you sold cryptocurrency, traded it, spent it on goods and services, received it as compensation or received an airdrop or fork. (A hard fork can happen when a digital coin splits and an airdrop is a way to for a company to hype up a coin with a giveaway and airdrop it into ledger addresses. )
Parsing the language on the 1040 instructions, Walter says you can check ‘no’ if you merely held it, transferred it between your own digital wallets and also if you only bought it but did nothing else.
“You don’t have to report anywhere how much you’re holding or where. All you report is when you have a taxable event,” she said.
Metras, however, thinks a person should answer ‘yes’ if they merely bought cryptocurrency.
“There’s mixed messages coming out of [the IRS] on who should be checking the box,” Metras said. “I think the IRS and Treasury aren’t sure what data they are trying to get out of the question. … I think the potential repercussions of checking ‘yes’ unnecessarily are much lower than not checking ‘yes’ when the IRS decided you should have.”
Where do I get my necessary tax records?
Brokerage firms will automatically generate the necessary tax paperwork, but that’s not necessarily the case in cryptocurrency exchanges.
The task of tallying up gains and losses can fall on the cryptocurrency holder, Walter said. “My biggest advice to taxpayers is keep track of your records.” Tax software can track transactions, she said. Another way is a simple spreadsheet, Weiss said.
People who have not been keeping close tabs through the year — “basically everyone I work with, Walter said — can go back and gather up transaction information from their wallets and the exchanges they’ve used. But that takes time.
For the first-timers who got into crypto and are sorting out their trades, buys and sells, Walter has another bit of advice: “Just file an extension. You can’t just do this overnight” ahead of an appointment with a tax preparer.
Exchanges like Gemini, Coinbase and Kraken all have to maintain transaction records for five years, Weiss said. Don’t be afraid to contact them if there are questions, he said. “It’s better to talk to customer support and be embarrassed that you don’t know your password than to not have those records,” he said.
What are my audit risks?
They could be getting more serious.
IRS officials could soon be “shifting from education to compliance and enforcement,” according to Metras. Still, he added later, “we don’t know exactly what the enforcement phase is going to look like.”
Giving the virtual currency question such prominent play on the 1040 is a good indicator IRS officials “are keeping their eye on” cryptocurrency, Walter added.
Others also think the IRS is getting serious. “Regulators are poised to commence a flurry of enforcement actions related to virtual currency tax fraud,” attorneys at BakerHostetler, a national law firm, wrote.
In summer 2019, the IRS sent out more than 10,000 letters to virtual currency holders who possibly failed to report all income and tax obligations. The “educational letters” were part of the IRS’ expanding focus on cryptocurrency, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said at the time.
The IRS likely didn’t have its sights on taxpayers with smaller holdings, MarketWatch tax columnist Bill Bischoff said around that time. “The agency is more interested in tracking down individuals and businesses that engage in significant virtual currency transactions while failing to comply with the tax rules,” he said.
A little tax common sense can go a long way. “If you sell $50,000 of bitcoin and a wire transfer shows for that amount, they are going to see it,” Weiss said. “You’re basically rolling the dice if you put $50,000 in the bank and are not reporting anything.”
(Bloomberg) — Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled that the central bank was nowhere close to pulling back on its support for the pandemic-damaged U.S. economy even as he voiced expectations for a return to more normal, improved activity later this year.“The economy is a long way from our employment and inflation goals, and it is likely to take some time for substantial further progress to be achieved,” he told the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday.He also played down concerns of an inflationary outbreak from another big fiscal stimulus package or from an unleashing of pent-up demand as a growing number of Americans are vaccinated against the virus. And he called the recent run-up in bond yields that has unsettled the stock market “a statement of confidence” in a robust economic outlook.The Fed is currently buying $120 billion of assets per month — $80 billion of Treasury securities and $40 billion of mortgage-backed debt — and has pledged to keep up that pace “until substantial further progress” has been made toward its goals of maximum employment and 2% inflation.The chairman “gave absolutely no indication that the Fed is thinking about changing its very dovish policy stance,” Cornerstone Macro analysts Roberto Perli and Benson Durham wrote in a note to clients.Powell’s testimony occurred against the backdrop of growing optimism about the economy as vaccines against the coronavirus are more widely disseminated and expectations of further fiscal stimulus from President Joe Biden and Congress mount.Bond yields have risen on the economy’s better prospects and in anticipation of faster inflation. Some traders have also brought forward their expectations for the Fed’s first interest-rate increase since it slashed rates effectively to zero last year.Powell said it was important to determine what was behind the higher bond yields, namely expectations of a return to a more normal economy.“In a way, it’s a statement on confidence on the part of markets that we will have a robust and ultimately complete recovery,” he said.Market price action was volatile in the aftermath of Powell’s opening statement text release, with 10-year yields initially rising a couple of basis points to 1.3875% session highs, before the move quickly faded and yields dropped back lower by about the same amount.Interest-rate swap markets are pricing the first 25 basis point of Fed hikes around mid-2023, versus the early-2024 time frame priced in at the beginning of this month.Read More: Traders See Earlier Fed Hikes, Even as Goldman Cautions on PaceTechnology company shares led a decline in U.S. stock prices on Tuesday on concern that valuations had gotten out of hand amid higher bond yields and bets on faster inflation. Even with recent weakness, though, the S&P 500 index is still up more than 70% from lows struck last March.Powell said he didn’t have an opinion on whether that constituted an equity market bubble, noting that there were opinions expressed on both sides of that proposition. “No one can really identify” a bubble, he said.Powell allowed that loose monetary policy has played a role in pushing up asset prices. But he said that other forces were also at play, including expectations of faster economic growth.“While we should not underestimate the challenges we currently face, developments point to an improved outlook for later this year,” Powell said. “In particular, ongoing progress in vaccinations should help speed the return to normal activities.”In response to a question, the Fed chair said growth could come in this year at 6%. The economy contracted by 2.5% last year.The economy started 2021 on a strong note, as retail sales and factory output accelerated. In the wake of the firmer data, Bloomberg Economics last week boosted its 2021 growth forecast to 4.6% from 3.5% and said that could rise toward 6%-7% if Biden’s $1.9 trillion aid package is enacted.What Bloomberg Economics Says…Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s prepared remarks before the Senate Banking Committee showed little if any deviation from the tone of recent public statements. But “no news” is news in and of itself because it shows the Fed to be unwavering in its policy stance, despite rising Treasury yields and an improving tone in much of the economic data.–Carl Riccadonna and Yelena Shulyatyeva, economistsFor the full note, click hereThe jobs market though has softened, with claims filed for unemployment benefits jumping to a four-week high in the most recent reporting period. Payrolls last month barely rose, by 49,000, after a 227,000 decline in December, and while unemployment dropped to 6.3%, that partly reflected more people leaving the workforce.“The high level of joblessness has been especially severe for lower-wage workers and for African Americans, Hispanics, and other minority groups,” Powell said. “The economic dislocation has upended many lives and created great uncertainty about the future.”He reiterated the Fed’s pledge to keep short-term interest rates pinned near zero until the labor market has reached maximum employment and inflation has accelerated to 2% — and is on track to moderately exceed that level for some time.The personal consumption expenditures price index rose 1.3% in December 2020 from a year earlier, well below the Fed’s 2% inflation target. After stripping out volatile food and energy costs, core inflation clocked in at 1.5%.“I really do not expect that we’ll be in a situation where inflation rises to troubling levels,” Powell said.Temporary InflationHe said inflation will pick up in coming months as current price levels are compared to depressed readings a year ago, when the economy was virtually shut down, but that effect will be temporary.Prices may also be pushed up later in the year by pent-up demand released as a growing number of Americans get vaccinated against the virus. But he said that the increase in inflation was unlikely to be large or long-lasting.Some economists, most prominently former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, have warned that Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan could lead to an overheating of the economy and much faster inflation — a concern that administration officials have pushed back on as exaggerated.While Powell studiously refrained from commenting on the Biden package, he did say that there hasn’t been a strong connection between bigger budget deficits and inflation recently.(Adds Powell bubble comments in 13th, 14th paragraphs)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
February 24, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
“Corporate culture” is difficult to define. Often it’s only implicitly understood and develops organically, rather than being explicitly expressed and planned from the top down. Your company’s culture becomes its personality, and has a major influence on how the public perceives it, as well as how the employees, partners and other providers interact with the public and with each other.
Nowadays, with so many companies forced to keep their offices closed in this time of social distancing, working from home has become the “new normal.” Research from the digital document organization app FYI has found that “improved culture” is one of the top responses when people were asked how companies can help upgrade the experience of remote work during the coronavirus crisis.
So how can you ensure that your culture survives when there’s no physical water cooler to gather around?
I often like to remind the executives I work with that even before the Covid-19 crisis hit, this was a major challenge. Larger companies with multiple locations, for example, have always found it difficult to maintain a cohesive corporate culture. It’s made even more challenging as companies extend their ecosystem to partners, third-party providers and freelancers outside of the immediate corporate structure.
Corporate culture is an essential guiding force, but how does it develop when the majority of a company’s workers, providers and freelancers never set foot in the office? Data provided by Global Workplace Analytics suggests that teleworking had become quite common even prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, growing by 140 percent since 2005 – and not just from the self-employed and gig workers; 4.3 million employees now work from home at least half the time.
At the same time, the self-employed population has grown by 2.4 percent, the home-based self-employed population grew by 7.3 percent, and the telecommuter population grew by 1.7 percent.
Corporate culture when face-to-face interactions are obsolete
Collaboration in a remote environment does take some additional work – but a distributed team is really just like any other team, whether they work face-to-face or not. A recent Harvard Business Review podcast noted that successful remote work is based on three principles: Communication, coordination and culture.
Communication and coordination are easily achieved through any number of sophisticated real-time communication and social sharing tools, but the culture is what creates a real sense of trust and engagement.
Corporate culture is more than creating a friendly break room with comfortable chairs and bringing in a box of doughnuts on Friday – developing it means intentionally engaging employees, educating them, and providing venues for interactions, knowledge sharing and training. Traditionally, this has been done live, with on-site in-services or special off-site events, but this becomes problematic when a company has thousands of remote employees and partners scattered throughout multiple countries.
Those events can still take place virtually. Fortunately, virtual meeting platforms have evolved to the point where they can be highly interactive, visual, and more importantly, effectively replicate the sense of “being there.” And yes, there are plenty of ways to spice up your “virtual happy hours.”
Your culture begins with onboarding – and especially when remote workers are involved, interactive video conferencing sessions can be a highly effective method of engaging those workers from the very beginning.
The key to success is in the level of engagement – and rather than a one-directional webinar session, culture can be developed and maintained by ensuring that teams huddle regularly, although not so often and for so long that “Zoom fatigue” starts to set in. Finding the right balance between live and asynchronous meetings is key, as is investing in giving people easy access to the information they need to do their jobs independently.
Best practices for remote corporate culture
A 2017 study by Deloitte noted that 80 percent of survey respondents see culture and engagement as top priorities. The Deloitte report noted that traditional learning management systems are rapidly being replaced with new tools that better meet the need for interaction and participation.
Best practices in developing that culture include holding managers accountable for training, communications and collaboration, and arming them with the tools necessary to do so in a manner consistent with the expectations of digitally savvy workers.
More importantly, consistency and frequency become even more important in a remote environment, and regular interactive video meetings should be held to reinforce corporate messaging and culture, as well as to impart specific training information.
Also, because of the efficiency of video conferencing, micro-learning becomes much more possible. Unlike live training sessions that require more coordination, remote training opportunities can be held more frequently, and at the same time, become more customized to meet the specific needs of each different group of employees.
Finally, measure results – look at the social interactions, comments, and social media sharing that takes place as a result of each session; measure user satisfaction and participation, and encourage feedback and input from participants. In so doing, you will be able to create a virtual environment that is not only the “next best thing to being there,” in many ways, it’s better than being there.
Thriving remotely as a collective
Maintaining a cohesive company culture is a challenge, even when you’re dealing with a relatively small team all working from one location. Multi-branch teams, teams built to operate remotely, and teams forced to suddenly work from home during a health crisis have it even harder. But with the right perspective and approach, your team can remain as cohesive and invested as ever.
Related: Company Culture Is Everything
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the approval of 78 Smart Schools Investment Plans aimed at improving school security and reimagining teaching and learning for the 21st century. The approved plans, totaling $59.9 million, are part of the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act—a sweeping education technology initiative first proposed by the Governor and overwhelmingly approved by voters.
“Our schools are continuing to evolve as they meet the new demands brought on by the pandemic, and the Smart Schools Bond Act is providing students with the latest technology so they can stay connected no matter where their classroom is,” Governor Cuomo said. “Even as rising vaccinations and a nation-leading testing program are paving the way for all students to return to the classroom, districts continue to navigate a new reality and with this funding, we are helping them while preparing students to succeed in the 21st century economy.”
The Smart Schools Review Board met today for the sixteenth time to consider investment plans submitted by school districts and special education schools. The Board is composed of the Director of the Budget, the Chancellor of the State University of New York, and the Commissioner of the State Education Department.
The plans approved today were submitted by 72 school districts and 2 special education schools. Projects include $21.2 million for high-tech security, $16.7 million for school connectivity, $14.6 million for classroom technology, $5.3 million for pre-kindergarten classrooms, $1.1 million for the replacement of transportable classroom units and $1.1 million for nonpublic schools’ classroom technology and school connectivity. A summary of the plans is available here.
New York State Budget Director Robert F. Mujica said, “The Governor proposed the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act to bridge the digital divide. Over the past two years, this funding has been critical to providing schools with the technology that made remote learning possible when the pandemic struck. Thanks to these funds, schools across New York State have the tools they need to connect students with the classroom anywhere they are, and ongoing investments continue to support schools in their efforts to keep them connected and get students ready to work in the modern economy.”
Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. said, “The pandemic has magnified the fact that New York’s children and families don’t have equal access to devices and broadband. This unprecedented situation has reaffirmed our dedication to ensuring that education is equitable to all students, especially during challenging times. Districts can use Smart Schools Bond Act funds to help bridge this digital divide.”
State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “Internet access is the electricity of the 1930s and ’40s; it is that crucial to everyday life and learning and so, it is imperative that we do everything possible to ensure that New York’s children have equal opportunities to connect and receive a meaningful education, even when they can’t be in the classroom. I applaud the work our districts are doing with these much-needed SSBA funds to improve infrastructure for in-person and remote learning, as well as fortifying high-tech security measures and ensure that students and teachers have what they need to be successful.”
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said, “The pandemic has been a sobering reminder about the inequities that continue to persist across the education system—disparities that the Smart Schools Bond Act is specifically designed to address. Today’s approval of nearly $60 million for technology upgrades will provide students across more than 70 school districts with everything from tablets and computers to high-speed broadband and wireless connectivity. Today, these are the essential tools that all students need to learn, thrive, and eventually advance to college—whether they’re remote learning from an apartment in New York City or resuming in-person instruction at a small school in rural Upstate New York. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his steadfast commitment to breaking down educational barriers for all students.”
With the Smart Schools Bond Act, school districts are investing in technology such as computer servers, interactive whiteboards, tablets, desktop and laptop computers, and high-speed broadband and wireless connectivity. This technology helps students to learn at their own pace, expands access to advanced courses and interactive curriculum, and enhances communication between parents and teachers. Of the $14.6 million in classroom technology expenditures approved at today’s meeting, districts have allocated $8.8 million for the purchase of laptops and tablets, helping to provide students with the technology required to succeed as schools continue to respond to the ongoing pandemic and operate under remote and hybrid learning models.
Investments in high-tech school security support the purchase of new equipment, such as emergency notification systems and other safety technology. Additional investments in the construction of pre-kindergarten classrooms will help ensure that students learn in modern, updated spaces.
In 2014, Governor Cuomo called for New York State to invest $2 billion in its schools through a Smart Schools Bond Act—an initiative that would finance educational technology and infrastructure, providing students access to the latest technology and connectivity needed to succeed and compete in the 21st century economy. New Yorkers agreed, as the voters authorized the Smart Schools Bond Act that November.
Following the proposal of the Bond Act, Governor Cuomo established the Smart Schools Commission to gather information on strategies for how schools can most effectively invest the bond funds. This advisory commission produced a final report recommending a focus on expanding robust broadband and wireless connectivity and utilizing transformative technologies. The plans approved today by the Smart Schools Review Board reflect many of the best practices identified by the Commission.