Auburn schools look to upgrade with tech levy | Special election Feb. 11

Voters will decide a $22 million technology replacement levy. - Reporter photo
Voters will decide a $22 million technology replacement levy.
— image credit: Reporter photo

On Feb. 11, the Auburn School District sets before voters a $22 million technology replacement levy.

The levy provides six years of funding to take recommendations made by the 2013 Technology Citizens Ad Hoc Committee and set them in motion. It replaces the 2005 technology levy.

Auburn School District Deputy Superintendent Mike Newman said that if the levy passes, local taxpayers' projected school tax rate would remain level.

"Our 2005 levy is over, so now it's time to renew that levy," Newman said.

The overall cost, Newman said, is "no new taxes" on residents. For example, on a $200,000 home, the school tax projected for the next year would be $1,320, and of that the technology levy would be $84.

"What we try to do across all the different propositions that we take before the voters to fund school levies is try to keep that tax rate as level as we possibly can. This one steps down two cents per thousand dollars of assessed value. As to the actual levy piece to pay for this, we're taking away 44 cents by retiring bonds and [reducing] the stepping down that we did in our planning for the capital levy that was passed in 2009. This fills that piece back in so that we're able to do the technology levy over the next six years."

Here's what district voters may expect for their dollars.

• 24/7 access to electronic resources for students, parents and teachers that allows for differentiation of learning, programs and support

• Targeted 1:1 student device access rolled out during the course of the levy

• Wireless access in all buildings

• Technology enhancements for safety and security

• Digital devices for students and teachers to enhance high-yield strategies in the classroom

• Digital tools for teachers to use available Learning Management Systems and electronic educational resources

• A comprehensive, embedded Digital Literacy and Citizenship K-12 curriculum

• Technology to facilitate group communication and collaboration learning by students, staff and administrators

• A robust, broadband infrastructure to support various learning structures.

Passage requires a simple majority plus one.

If voters don't pass the levy this go around, Newman said, kids won't have access to world-class tools. In that event, he continued, the board would have to consider running the levy again.

"My guess is, knowing the passion that's behind it, the board would want to run it again," Newman said. "But what I'm hearing is that people are excited that we're moving in this direction, the direction of providing high-yield strategies for kids' learning. Three or four years ago, nobody had a smart phone or an i-Pad, and now everybody has a smartphone or a tablet device, and those that don't, want to. So in this world of ever-evolving technology, we need our kids to be prepared to use that stuff effectively in the future."

The 40-member ad hoc committee, composed of community members, parents, teachers and staff, met last fall to create the recommendations on high-yield strategies, access for students and staff, infrastructure and funding.

The committee decided that the levy would be necessary to bring 21st Century learning tools into the Auburn classroom and that it would align with the district's strategic plan, which is as follows: "Technology will be integral to administration and teaching and learning to prepare all students for career, college, and life beyond high school."

Here's the projected school tax rate:

$6.62 (School tax rate 2014)

- .44 (Retiring bonds and capital levy)

+ .42 (Technology levy)

$6.60 (Projected tax rate for 2015)

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