Councilman James Vacca secures $450,000 for UPK tech grants

(l-r) Theresa Bivona, principal of St. Clare of Assisi School in Morris Park; Councilman James Vacca and John Paul Barnaba, principal of Our Lady of Assumption School in Pelham Bay stand together at St. Clare as $450,000 in technology grants for Universal Pre-K programs at eight local Catholic schools were announced. Grants were secured by Councilman Vacca.
Photo courtesy of Councilman James Vacca

Four-year-olds in local parochial schools are going to be having some impressive new technology to learn from this fall.

Universal Pre-K programs in Councilman James Vacca’s 13th district will be receiving between $35,000 to $65,000 each to purchase new technology in what the councilman termed as a groundbreaking program.

A total of $450,000 will be dispersed to pre-k programs at eight schools. Universal Pre-K citywide is funded with taxpayer dollars already.

The grant money will be spent on computers and technology that will help round out a 21st century educational experience, said the councilman.

“All children need access to current technology, whether they attend a public or private school,” said Councilman Vacca. “This year, when I saw how many of our parochial schools had participated in the full day UPK initiative, I looked for a way to allocate these resources.”

Because the UPK programs are funded through the government, the allocations for technology grants are available to those programs in a way they are not to traditional Catholic or private schools.

A representative from the New York Archdiocese’s Northeast/East Bronx school region, Jodian Davis, said that technology is an important part of education at Catholic schools already.

The children in the UPK program will be retained and continue on to the upper grades of the schools, she said, so teaching technology earlier on should give them a good start to their overall educations. It should be helpful for the four-year-olds, she indicated.

“Being at this young age, with the world we are in today, the children are being hit with technology all of the time,” said Davis. “It is important that they be exposed to technology properly the first time around.”

Principals in the schools with the UPK programs seemed delighted by the news.

“I am humbled that (Councilman Vacca) thought of our Catholic schools when awarding the grant money,” stated Theresa Bivona, principal of St. Clare’s. “This grant will help to bolster our technology department in educating our students for the ever changing world of tomorrow.”

Newly appointed Our Lady of the Assumption School principal John Paul-Barnaba stated he plans to utilize the grant to create a learning environment for modern learning.

He expressed appreciation on behalf of the school community to Councilman Vacca, adding that the school received $45,000.

According to Davis, in addition to OLA and St. Clare’s, the following UPK programs received technology funding: St. Theresa School, Pelham Bay; St. Frances de Chantal, Throggs Neck; St. Francis Xavier, Morris Park; and St. Lucy’s School, Allerton.

Vacca is chair of the City Council’s Technology Committee.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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