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Councilman Jimmy Vacca nets $375,000 in technology funding

Smart tables a new educational tool

Bronx Times

These east Bronx bookworms will soon be tapping their way into the 21th Century.

Students at schools in Morris Park, City Island and Throggs Neck will be able to use table-sized electronic tablets in their studies, thanks to a budget allocation from a local city official.

Tucked into the city’s 2015 fiscal year budget is $245,000 toward 30 “Smart Table Collaborative Learning Centers” — basically gigantic i-Pads — to be used by students at P.S. 108 in Morris Park, P.S. 175 in City Island and P.S. 392 in Throggs Neck.

School just got more fun

Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who secured the funds, is touting his efforts to bring his district up to broadband speed. The electronic tablets are part of $375,000 total that Vacca, the chair of the City Council’s Technology Committee, steered toward tech programs this budget season.

The “smart table” consoles, set to be ready by the 2015-16 school year, include an interactive 42-inch LCD screen, which can be used by groups up to eight.

Teachers are excited to upload lessons and activities onto the machines.

“We appreciate Council Member Vacca’s strong commitment to public education, and his efforts will help support our school goals of positive social, emotional, and academic change,” said P.S. 392 principal Daniel Racic.

Citywide tech $$$

But bringing tablets into schools is only the beginning of the city’s plan to get more Bronxites online. Vacca also created what he calls the “NYC Digital Inclusion and Literacy Initiative,” which provides funding to groups that help connect seniors, youth and immigrant communities with Internet access.

As part of the program, each City Councilmember has $14,705 to allocate to a group of their choice in their district. At press time, Vacca had yet to decide where his funds were going, in his east Bronx district.

The east Bronx pol said the funding would help equalize the playing field for low-income and immigrant communities throughout the five boroughs.

“In 2014, in a city like New York, it is completely unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of people still don’t have access to broadband Internet and have never been taught to use a computer,” said Vacca. “With this funding, we are taking another step forward towards closing the digital disparity by providing tech-based training to the people who need it most and preparing our kids to be at the forefront of this vital sector from an early age.”

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at bkochman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.
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