Smart bus unveiled in Newington

Published on Saturday, 7 October 2017 21:50
Written by Charles Paullin

Staff Writer

NEWINGTON - It’s only fitting that smart students should have a Smart bus - and now they do.

The district unveiled a new Smart bus, to serve all seven schools in the district and the community as well, outside Newington High School recently.

“The students are the main reason behind this project,” said Salerno. “They are our pioneers, our experts, our risk takers, and most importantly, our future,” said Jay Salerno, director of educational technology for the district.

Salerno originated the idea as part of a Google Innovator program.

“We love it at Smart because our whole vision is about making sure we play a role in helping students find their greatness,” said Kristin Slavin, Smart Technologies’ director of sales for North America.

A 2004 International bus that had transported Newington students to and from sporting events was decommissioned and equipped with three Smart interactive displays - virtual reality, audio and Wi-Fi - with help from Connecticut Business Systems.

The market and in-kind contribution of the technology, repairs and updates to the bus by Dattco, and a wrap by Image 360, are valued at $40,000, according to Smart. With the donation and bus already in the district, the project cost the school system no additional money.

The plan is to have the bus travel around the district and other districts that may not have access to such technology, said Salerno, to provide students with learning opportunities, as well as to provide community members access to technology they otherwise wouldn’t have.

“I think it’s great if we can use technology to teach us,” said Ryan Claffey, a seventh-grade “TechSpert” at John Wallace Middle School, who was instructing onlookers while his sister played an educational computer game on a nearby desk.

The TechSpert program is a district program students can enter in third and fourth grades to expand and explore technological learning opportunities.

Claffey added that the bus creates more of a collaborative effort for teachers and students to share classroom materials from computers and phones.

Mayor Roy Zartarian was on site for the unveiling, and said, “I was very disappointed it is not accessible to the handicapped.”

Using a cane to walk around, he was unable to board the bus, and thought it was a little redundant, as similar technologies exist at the library.

Zartarian’s challenger, Terry Borjeson, who was also present for the unveiling, called the bus fabulous, saying the district needs to make more technological efforts like it.

“It’s exciting and adventurous,” said Borjeson.

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, Newington on Saturday, 7 October 2017 21:50. Updated: Saturday, 7 October 2017 21:52.