U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $466,686 in federal funding for the Cattaraugus-Allegany-Erie-Wyoming Board of Cooperative Educational Services (CA BOCES). The grant was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine program. The funds will be used to purchase video conferencing equipment, network-enabled scientific instruments, and computer networking equipment that will allow schools to share classes and teachers. The program will connect CA BOCES to 15 end-user sites throughout 14 different communities.
“This federal investment is good news for students and educators across Upstate New York,” said Senator Schumer. “This federal investment will promote STEM education and give students access to learning opportunities for skills that will make them competitive in college and in the workforce. I am proud to announce this federal investment and will continue to fight to make sure that rural communities in Western New York and across New York State have the educational tools they need so students are prepared for the jobs of the future.”
“Technology in the classroom allows students from all over New York to virtually access courses that may not be available to them otherwise,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Students should not be limited in what they can learn simply because of where they live, and this investment helps close the gaps in course offerings from one school to another. The experience of CA BOCES proves that virtual classrooms can benefit students, and I will continue to support programs like this that prepare our students for the future.”
“This is our ninth award from the USDA and has fueled connectivity between schools that otherwise would not be possible. Over the years, USDA funding has built a virtual school in our region. Over forty virtual classes connect via video conference every single day, allowing schools to share the instructional expertise of their outstanding faculty members. Additionally, hundreds of students to take other online courses because of this funding,” said Lynda Quick, District Superintendent and CEO, Cattaraugus-Allegany-Erie-Wyoming BOCES. “These virtual courses are critical in expanding offerings in small rural schools that, over time, have been stripped of the ability to offer many (or any) AP, college credit, or elective courses to their students. This award helps put a dent in leveling the playing field. It helps our students build a transcript that can be competitive in the post-secondary arena.”
USDA Rural Development Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants aim to provide access to education, training, and health care resources for rural Americans. The grants can be used to purchase equipment such as transmission facilities, audio equipment, interactive video equipment, computer hardware, and technical assistance for using eligible equipment. More information can be found here.