By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE — It’s been nine years since the Marysville School District has been able to afford a major technology upgrade.
Its computers are using an operating system that’s so out of date, about a third of them can’t be upgraded, said Superintendent Becky Berg. High school students report that it can take up to 25 minutes to log on to computers, she said.
Wide-ranging improvements in technology — including district-wide Wi-Fi, electronic tablets and computers for students and installation of security cameras at each of the district’s 22 schools — are some of improvements that would be paid for through the district’s proposed four-year, $12 million technology levy. The projected 2015 tax rate is 53 cents per $1,000 of property valuation.
Voters also will be asked to approve a four-year renewal of the district’s education and operations levy. With a projected 2015 tax rate of $4.35 per $1,000 in property tax valuation, it’s expected to raise $24.8 million next year.
If both measures are approved, the owner of a $250,000 house would pay $1,220 a year in school taxes. Voters must mail their ballots by Tuesday.
The district’s previous technology levy expired in 2005. At the time, the district decided to put money into building projects, such as Marysville Getchell High School and Grove Street Elementary School, Berg said.
Both projects came in under budget, so the district was able to use the remaining money to install a fiber-optic trunk line. Money from the proposed technology levy would be used to connect the schools to that trunk line and provide Wi-Fi to all schools.
“We have a few Wi-Fi hot spots, but we haven’t all been connected by Wi-Fi before,” Berg said.
The service could be installed district-wide next year. “Our staff and students are very hungry for technology that works efficiently,” Berg said. “Technology has changed a lot since 2005.”
High schools would get high-performance workstations for video and sound editing and for writing computer code, she said.
The district’s Wi-Fi service also would be available to the public in school parking lots during after-school hours.
The school district has 11,200 students and a general operating budget of $120 million. The district’s current maintenance and operation levy provides about a quarter of the operating budget.
Levy money is used for a variety of purposes, including paying teacher salaries, helping provide smaller class sizes, funding student activities, fine arts programs and basics like paying the heat and light bills, Berg said.
The school district had to cut more than $20 million from its budget over the past five years, according to Jim Baker, the district’s finance director.
That meant reducing 17 custodial and maintenance positions and imposing fees for students to participate in athletics, Berg said.
Passage of the levy would allow the district to eliminate the sports-participation fees through 2018, Berg said.
The district’s 2014-15 budget won’t be settled until mid-June, but passage of the levy also could make it possible to add five maintenance or custodial positions, Baker said.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.