School Board studies new classroom technology plan

School Board studies new classroom technology plan
Posted on 06/28/2019

A proposal that outlines goals and costs for classroom technology was presented to the Tahoma School Board at its June 25 meeting by members of the school district’s Technology Advisory Committee.

The draft plan relies on voter approval of a new technology levy and would restore technology funding that stopped after failure of the 2018 technology levy. The plan reflects work that was completed earlier in the school year by the Technology Model Review. It would move the district toward a more comprehensive use of classroom technology tools and would increase technical support for teachers and students so that they can take better advantage of technology tools as part of their regular learning activities. It also establishes expectations that teachers would become proficient in using classroom technology.

“Students and teachers in every classroom should have the skills, resources, and knowledge to take full advantage of all that learning and teaching in the digital information age offers,” the plan states. “To ensure all students in every classroom have experiences that allow them to use digital tools and resources in authentic, meaningful ways, we must invest in building teachers’ ability to integrate technology in intentional and engaging ways as part of their regular practice.”

A committee of district staff, parents, students, and community members created the proposal. It is intended as a starting point for discussion by the School Board, which will decide whether to approve the plan, along with the dollar amount for the levy. The initial proposal would ask voters to approve $22.8 million over four years, beginning in 2021. The levy would pay for purchase of computers and other devices, network support infrastructure, training, staff support, curriculum development, and other related costs.

The Technology Advisory Committee did not try to pare down the funding request, choosing instead to focus on designing a classroom technology proposal that best serves students. It is now up to the School Board to examine the plan and determine its final scope and cost.

The School Board is scheduled to further discuss the plan at its July 16 work-study meeting.

In other business June 25, the Board:

  • Heard an update about the 2019-2020 budget. General Fund revenue is estimated to be $126.5 million from state, local, and federal income. Spending is estimated to be nearly $130 million, which would require use of $4.7 million from the reserve fund balance. The biggest increase in spending is for employee pay and benefits, including 31.5 new teaching and support positions. The Board will discuss the proposed budget at its July 16 work-study meeting.
  • Received the preliminary Attendance and Discipline Report for all schools, which is presented annually. The data given to the board is the first step in a process that will result in creation of a final report that will be ready during the fall.
  • Approved hiring a contractor, Columbia Land Services, to replace the on-site septic system at Tahoma Elementary School at a bid cost of $267,875. Taxes and other fees bring the total project cost to $453,812.25. Work commences immediately.
  • Approved the annual Capital Facilities Plan, which is the basis for construction impact fees paid to the district by home developers.
  • Approved creation of a girls’ wrestling program at Tahoma High School. The program will compete as a varsity sport in the North Puget Sound League.
  • Approved adoption of a new Grade 9 biology curriculum, “Engaging in 21st Century Biology,” published by Educurious. The curriculum, including books and online support, will cost $120,760.
  • Approved leasing school buses to transport participants in the inaugural Be the Hope walk in Maple Valley in mid-July.
  • Held a first reading on Policy and Procedure 3211, Transgender Students.
  • Heard an update about unpaid student meal fees, which exceed $12,000. The district is considering use of a collection agency for student meal debt that exceeds $75 per food account. The debt collection agency would be used as a last resort if other efforts to collect the fee are unsuccessful. The district works with families to provide free or reduced meal assistance. Students always receive a meal, regardless of whether they can pay.

Further details about the meeting are available on the Tahoma website in the BoardDocs section.

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