Levy asks voters to OK $38.4 million for technology, school repairs, maintenance

January 19, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Issaquah School District officials are seeking voter approval of three levies, including a capital levy for critical repairs and technology.If approved, the three levies would supplement the district’s budget with more than $214 million by 2014.

The four-year $38.4 million capital levy would make repairs to school buildings, and maintain and purchase technological equipment.

Though the levy goes into the district’s capital fund, it is different than a bond, said Jake Kuper, chief of finance and operations for the district. Essentially, he said, a bond is like your home mortgage — you borrow a large sum of money and pay interest on it over time.

“Levies are usually for smaller projects and maintenance-type purchases,” Kuper said.

Technology

The technology portion of the levy request is $32.9 million.

The funds would enable district officials to purchase new software programs, computers, printers, projectors and interactive white boards.

If approved, the levy will also include funds for upgrading more school buildings, including areas of the elementary schools, to wireless Internet service.

The levy also pays for technology employees, the district Web site ,and new technology and software training for teachers.

The first technology levy Issaquah voters approved was for $2 million in 1988. The most recent capital levy included critical repairs and technology, $17 million passed in 2006.

If the new levy doesn’t pass, district officials will likely re-run the measure during another election, although voter feedback regarding its failure may alter the parameters.

Technology funding does not come from the state since it isn’t part of the state’s definition of basic education.

Critical repairs

The critical repairs portion of the levy request is for $5.6 million to pay for repairs or replacements throughout the district, like old kitchen and building equipment, school roofs or carpets.

Long Lam, head custodian at Liberty High School, has several repairs waiting for approval of the levy. Major items include replacing broken food services equipment, like an oven, and the leaking refrigerator and freezer.

“We’ve been wrapping (the pipes) so it doesn’t leak, but it doesn’t work,” he said. “The freezer is more critical, because the water leak turns to ice, making the floor slippery.”

Lam said he also hopes for a new heating and air conditioning system for Liberty. The current one leaks because of rust, he said, which makes it more difficult to regulate the temperature. It has also discolored some ceiling tiles ,and water has started collecting in one of the ceiling lights in Diane Allen’s science classroom.

“There were a couple of kids that did worry whether it was safe to sit under there or not,” Allen said. “It did make me wonder for a while.”

In the meantime, Lam and his custodians spend time replacing tiles, draining the light fixture and sometimes just putting a bucket down to collect the water to keep the area safe.

In addition to the capital levy for repairs and technology, voters will decide on a $172.5 million maintenance and operations levy and a $1.7 million transportation levy.

If approved, taxpayers would pay an estimated $4.81 for every $1,000 of assessed property for all three levies and the remainder of the 2006 school construction bond.

The total cost of the package for a resident with a $500,000 home would be $2,238, lower than this year’s school taxes of about $2,415.

Ballots have been mailed to registered voters. They need to postmarked by Feb. 9 to be counted.

levies in review

Critical repairs

-Playground equipment

-Food services equipment and appliances

-Plumbing fixtures, sinks, sewer pumps and piping

-New energy-efficient hot water tanks

-Upgraded fire sprinkler systems

-Upgraded emergency radio communication and fire systems

-Painting and new wall vinyl

-Doors and windows

-Heating and air conditioning systems

-Mechanical operations equipment

-Electrical equipment repairs and additions

-Landscaping and site drainage systems

-Replace lockers

-Paving of pathways and parking lots

For a complete list of improvements by school go to: www.issaquah.wednet.edu/ documents/election/2010critical repairs.pdf

Technology

-Technology specialists, managers and instruction

-Server upgrades, software, backup systems, firewalls and routers, Web site and network security

-Nonclassroom computers, career and technology employees, addition of wireless to core areas at elementary schools, document cameras, interactive whiteboards, projectors, replacement of computers, laptops and printers

Source: Issaquah School District

Capital levy

-4-year collection

-$38.4 million

-Average $250 per year for $500,000 home

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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