Tech Valley High wins funding commitments

California foundation, New York state to provide nearly $1.2 million to new institution

LARRY RULISON Business writer
Section: Business,  Page: E1

Date: Friday, August 11, 2006

NORTH GREENBUSH - Tech Valley High School, a new public school being created in Rensselaer County to educate students in math, science and technology, received nearly $1.2 million in commitments Thursday from the state and a West Coast educational foundation.

The announcements at the North Greenbush headquarters of MapInfo Corp. came from state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, and Bob Pearlman, director of strategic planning for the New Technology Foundation in Napa, Calif. More than 100 people attended the event, including business, nonprofit and educational leaders and middle school students. The New Technology Foundation, which pledged $400,000 to the school, has funded 26 schools across the country with money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the charitable endeavor of Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates.

Ten more schools - including Tech Valley High - are scheduled to open within the next year. They are all modeled on New Technolo gy High School, an innovative school in Napa that focuses on teaching students about math, science and technology in an innovative, project-based learning environment.

"Tech Valley High School is poised to be a winner," Pearlman said. Meanwhile Bruno, who has been working with local educational leaders on the school's concept and funding, announced he has secured $750,000 over the next two years from the state budget for the project.

The school, which is expected to open in the fall of 2007 with a freshman class of 30, is designed to educate the region's technology work force and to help draw technology businesses to the area.

"What's going on around here is special," Bruno said.

Tech Valley High will be run by Capital Region BOCES and Questar III, two local educational cooperatives that are part of New York's BOCES system that supports local school districts with vocational and college-preparatory training and other services.

Once fully operational, Tech Valley High is expected to have 400 students in grades 9 through 12. Students will be drawn from the roughly 50 school districts that the two BOCES programs serve.

During the first two years, the school will be housed in office space being renovated at MapInfo, which sells mapping software and data as well as consulting services to businesses and governments. While MapInfo calls Rensselaer Technology Park in North Greenbush home, Tech Valley High plans to relocate to a new facility in East Greenbush in its third year.

James Baldwin, district superintendent of Questar III, said the money from the state and the New Technology Foundation should help the school with development and start-up costs for the next few years.

Like other BOCES programs, tuition for students is paid by their home school districts, which are reimbursed by the state. Once fully operational, the school's annual budget will be between $4 million and $5 million.

Larry Rulison can be reached at 454-5504 or by e-mail at