School district sets levy amounts

Three-year maintenance and operations, technology levies will go to voters in February

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The Washougal School District has set amounts for its upcoming three-year maintenance and operations levy, as well as a technology levy.

Current levies are due to expire at the end of 2014. These were approved by voters in 2010 and provide additional funding to areas such as school safety, textbooks, special education, sports, music and technology. The levies will go before district voters in February 2014.

The M&O levy will be set at $6.3 million, which is 23 percent more than the current $5.09 million levy. Additional levy dollars are needed to maintain current programs for increasing enrollment, and fund expanded learning opportunities and programs, such as all-day kindergarten district wide, summer school, instructional coaches and safety improvements at all buildings, according to business manager Brian Wallace.

During a special meeting last week, the School Board heard from Wallace and other administrators about needs within the district.

“When I look into creating programs, such as summer school, I want to do it for more than a year,” said David Tudor, district curriculum director. “The research into pre-intervention is true. If kids don’t learn to read by grade three, academic problems increase substantially through school.”

This past summer, the district served 120 children across all grade levels, but focused on academic assistance to kindergarten through fifth-grade students.

The technology levy will be set at $700,000, a 180 percent increase from the current $250,000 levy.

“The additional technology levy dollars are to fund a one-to-one iPad initiative,” Wallace said. “This is an expansion of our current iPad pilot project that has resulted in significant gains in student achievement.”

According to Blaine Peterson, School Board chairman, efforts have been made to keep costs down as much as possible, but inflation, increased enrollment and new education initiatives have resulted in the district needing to increase the levy amounts.

“We don’t need to decide where everything will go toward tonight,” he said. “But we do need to decide what amount the levies will be. We want to provide for the students.”

Les Brown, technology director, is hoping to roll out three grades worth of iPads per year if the technology levy is approved. The district is decreasing traditional desktop computer purchases, but still needs them for projects that require a larger screen than a tablet and a full-sized keyboard.

“We are gradually shifting to a different form of textbook,” he said. “It’s more online based. We need to look and see what position we want to be in, in three years. Do we want technology to support online textbooks, or not?”

The School Board will discuss the levy in more detail at its Tuesday, Oct. 8 meeting.