Smart Start Grant

  • The following information pertains to the Ken-Ton School District's Smart Start Grant. For more information, contact Anne Martell at

    Proposed Narrative Overview:

    Title: KTUFSD and TCSC Smart Start Grant

    Focus Area: Educational Technology

    Model: A combination of Cohort and Train the Trainer

    Scale: Focused with the potential structure to reach 500 teachers over five years

    Target Populations: K-8 Teachers, Administrators, Students with purposeful focus on ELLs and SWDs

    Our regional economy’s largest employers need workers with technology skills for current and future careers.  Based on recent surveys, observations and discussions conducted by the technology leadership teams of Kenmore Tonawanda Union Free School District (KTUFSD) and Tonawanda Central School District (TCSD), we have determined that the technology skills of teachers and students are inadequate, leaving our students unprepared for careers in our regional economy.  We specifically found that our students are not being taught how to live safely and productively in a digitally dominated world, how to effectively utilize technology to create, research, communicate, and collaborate, and only a very small percentage of students are graduating with computer science skills.  That is why KTUFSD and TCSD, as a consortium, have combined our resources to create a plan to digitally transform the technology skills of our teachers and students to prepare our graduates with the skills needed to succeed in our regional workforce.

    Located in Western New York, KTUFSD and TCSD have similar demographics.  16% of our combined student population are students with disabilities (SWDs) and 3% are English Language Learners (ELLs).  Our districts are located in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, and while we technically don’t qualify as high needs districts, many of our students are transient moving in and out of the city of Buffalo, which is a high needs district.  45% of our consortium students receive reduced or free lunch services and these students come from high needs homes and are at a disadvantage in utilizing the same level of technology outside of school, compared to more economically privileged students.  Both districts have taken a big hit to our tax base due to the 2016 closing of the Huntley plant in Tonawanda.  At the time of its closing, the plant generated $6 million in local tax revenue.  Despite these economic challenges, our districts have the teaching talent to deliver high quality education with many nationally board-certified teachers on staff.

    Program Goals:

    Our program’s main goal is to give our teachers the skills needed to teach our students how to live safely and productively in a digitally-dominated world, how to effectively utilize technology to create, research, communicate, and collaborate, and to increase the number of students graduating with computer science skills.  More specifically, we will strive for the following goals:

    Primary Goal: By June 2025, increase digital literacy and digital citizenship skills for all students, with special attention to ELLs and SWDs, to better prepare them for the regional workforce (focus on K-8).

    Secondary Goal: By June 2025, encourage and inspire students, including ELLs and SWDs to enroll in and graduate from our CTE pathways that include computer science and IT to better prepare them for the regional workforce (focus on K-8).

    Name & Contact Information for Smart Start Lead:

    Kelly White, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Leadership & Instruction
    (716) 874-8400

    Anne Martell, Assistant Director for K-12 Education
    (716) 874-8400

    Award Amount:


    Outline of Planned Program:

    The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda UFSD and Tonawanda City School District partnered in developing our NYSED Smart Start professional learning program for K-8 educators. A total of 76 educators from both school districts are participating in the first cohort of the Smart Start program which is focused on digital literacy and digital citizenship as well as future-ready learning for workforce readiness. The first cohort of educators from both districts includes ENL teachers, Special Education teachers, Business teachers, Library Media Specialists, Instructional Support Specialists, and Administrators. 

    All participants in cohort 1 will complete coursework to earn either a Google Level 1 or Level 2 certification as well as 15-20 hours of additional NYSCATE online coursework based on their individual student needs and professional learning goals. Participants will earn digital badges to show they have completed NYSCATE coursework. The work started in the digital citizenship workshop and program kick-off will continue with curriculum building and workshops for schools and students throughout the school year.