Bridging Our Digital Divide
We are considering placing a levy on the November ballot to fund technology for students and teachers.
The emergency transition to distance learning demonstrated an urgent need for technology funding—for devices, connection, security, support and training.
We placed more than 13,000 devices and 1,000 hotspots with students this spring. Many of these are aging Chromebooks. Many classroom desktop computers are also aging. Many families do not have internet access at home and are dependent on hotspots for students to do online learning.
As we face a period when state education funding is likely to shrink due to the economic downturn, we are considering a levy to fund technology needs.
A two-year $32.5 million levy would not increase taxes beyond the current rate. This aligns with the counsel of our community-led Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) to keep tax rates steady. The levy proposal will be reviewed by school board members, who will make a final decision this summer about the amount and whether to place a levy on the ballot this November.
A levy would provide the tools and support teachers need to prepare our students for 21st century careers. It would also support distance learning, which will need to continue to some degree next school year under social distancing requirements.
What Would A Proposed Technology Levy Fund?
Replace aging computers for teachers and students.
Provide training and coaching to help teachers personalize student learning using digital tools.
Update classrooms with interactive screens to allow teachers to deliver instruction in the classroom and/or to students at home.
Provide technology to ensure all students have internet access for learning at home
Update cybersecurity to protect confidential student and district data.
As you know, staff are planning for various scenarios this fall, which include staying in distance learning mode and creating a hybrid of in-person and distance learning. We must also be prepared to return to distance learning system-wide if there is a spike in the spread of the virus.
Weren’t We Talking About a Bond on the November Ballot?
With coronavirus concerns and the economic downturn, school board members do not think November 2020 is the right time to ask voters to approve a bond to fund construction of Evergreen, Tyee and Pacific. Work will continue on the designs of these schools this fall, since the initial design work is paid for by the 2016 bond.
A more urgent need now--and a smaller investment--is to upgrade our technology tools for students and teachers, not only to support distance learning into next school year, but to prepare our students for 21st century careers.
One of the prior suggestions from our community-led Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) to the school board was to run a levy to fund technology needs rather than include them in a bond.
The next opportunity to run a school construction bond would likely be in 2022.