Press Release

At Watkins Glen Middle School, Gillibrand Sees Firsthand Virtual Classroom Software Program That Allow Students to Use Broadband at School and Home

Jun 3, 2011

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today at Watkins Glen Middle School saw firsthand how local students are using  virtual classroom software program to access the internet at school and home. At Senator Gillibrand’s urging, the Greater Southern Tier Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (GST BOCES) in Watkins Glen was chosen as one of twenty national projects eligible for up to $170,000 in funding allocated through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its “Learning On-The-Go” wireless pilot program. These federal dollars will be used by the GST BOCES for its Mobile Learning Device Project. 

“Education is one of the most important investments we can make for the future of our state,” Senator Gillibrand said.  “These federal dollars will give our students in Watkins Glen the education and access to cutting edge technology that they need to succeed in the 21st Century.”

“Thanks to the support from the Senator, Watkins Glen Central School District is able to continue and expand our efforts with Mobile Technology as a means of enhancing educational opportunities for students in a rural community,” said Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips. “Our hope is that these monies will allow us to continue this program and expand both equity of access and quality educational opportunities to the High School in 2011-2012.”

“The MLD Project in Watkins Glen offers students a cutting-edge approach to education and provides them with the skills needed in today’s globally-competitive world,” said GST BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Horst Graefe. “GST BOCES and the Watkins Glen Central School District thank Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for her support in obtaining this funding.”

In a March 2011 letter, Gillibrand pressed for the program’s funding to be awarded to the District, “These wireless connectivity services provide critical off-premise connection to all students in the district, regardless of income level,” Gillibrand wrote. “The Watkins Glen Central School District is at the forefront of this technology, which is already having a transformative impact on educational delivery in this very rural area.”

These federal funds are being used to provide middle and high school students in Watkins Glen access to virtual classroom software program through cutting edge online learning devices such as smartphones and netbooks. 

The FCC’s “Learning On-The-Go” wireless pilot program is an effort aimed to connect K-12 students to the internet off-campus, increasing their access to digital textbooks and cutting edge interactive learning tools.  The program builds upon previous projects, such as the E-rate program, which provided for on-campus connectivity.