School eyeing technology upgrades

Through state funding, upgrades are on the way for the Dunkirk City School District to provide students with the latest technology and the connectivity needed to succeed.

In 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a $2 billion investment in schools through the Smart Schools Bond Act — an initiative that would finance education technology and infrastructure. Residents in the state agreed and voted in favor of SSBA in November 2014.

Around $2.1 million was allotted to the Dunkirk City School District, and officials are planning to use $200,000 this year to purchase 300 Chromebooks and upgrade aging technology infrastructure. On Thursday, board of education approved a preliminary plan detailing the purchases.

Dunkirk Schools’ Business Administrator William Thiel told board of education members that server and switch upgrades will improve function and speed of its wireless system. Upgrades total $115,000.

“This is really expanding our networks and improving our backbone to our technology,” Thiel said. “Every place in the district has new wireless, and we’re beginning to install it room-to-room at the elementary schools. Switches and servers will allow (our system) to run at a speed it’s designed to run at.”

As for the Chromebooks, 300 will be purchased to facilitate computer based testing in grades 3-8 while allowing 10 additional classrooms to reach 1-to-1 status by 2019. The district currently has 20 pilot classrooms that use Chromebook technology. With a change in state standards and testing down to two days, Assistant Superintendent Theresa Gray noted that it’s a good time for the district to go ahead with the purchase. The Chromebooks will cost $92,849.

“It’s a brand new baseline year,” she said. “This is the best year for us to go ahead and jump in and take the risk. With pilot (classrooms), teachers feel much more comfortable.”

Dunkirk Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Tracy said there’s a movement toward 1-to-1 teaching and computerized testing.

“It’s a powerful tool that I’ve been involved with,” Tracy said regarding the technology. “It has them more engaged instead of the teacher teaching.”

The school’s presentation on the plan is posted online and can be found by visiting and going to the technology department tab. A public hearing will be held Dec. 14 regarding the school’s technology upgrade plans. In addition to the public hearing, individuals can email their comments to