The Highline Public Schools Board of Directors is considering placing a levy on the November 2020 ballot to fund technology for students and teachers. Board members introduced a resolution at the June 24 school board meeting. They will vote at the July 8 board meeting on whether to place the proposed tech levy on the ballot for Highline voters.
The emergency transition to distance learning demonstrated an urgent need for technology funding—for devices, connection, security, support and training. It revealed more starkly the digital divide that already existed in homes and classrooms throughout Highline.
Staff placed more than 13,000 devices and 1,000 hotspots with students this spring. Many of these devices are aging, as are many classroom computers. Hotspots are a necessity for students for distance learning, which will continue next school year due to the pandemic.
The district faces a period when state education funding is likely to shrink due to the economic downturn. The levy would fund purchase of devices that will be needed next year and beyond.
Would a Technology Levy Raise Tax Rates?
A two-year $32.5-million levy would not increase taxes beyond the current rate. It would expire in two years. If passed, taxpayers will see a reduction of $0.12 per $1,000 assessed value in 2021. This aligns with the counsel of Highline’s community-led Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) to keep tax rates steady.
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.
- Provide technology to ensure all students have internet access for learning at home
- Update cybersecurity to protect confidential student and district data.
- Update classrooms with interactive screens to allow teachers to deliver instruction in the classroom and/or to students at home.