Tech levy plans refined

Computer access would be on a ratio of 1:4, rather than 1:1.

For $7.9 million, Bainbridge Island schools can be brought “out of the stone age” into the tech age, with one computer for every four children in the district.

That’s the revised recommendation district staff made to members of the school board Thursday night, as they ponder the cost and scope of a technology levy that will come before island voters on May 17.

An earlier, $10 million proposal that would have provided laptops for every high school student, was considered too ambitious for now.

That’s because students and teachers are now working with computers that are 7 years old – ancient in the tech world – and it will take time for students and staff to get up to speed on new equipment.

“Five years down the road it might be possible to have a one-to-one ratio,” of computers to students, said Randy Orwin, the district’s director of technology. But by then, the technology may have changed considerably, making the laptops in use today, obsolete.

To keep the technology up to date, it was recommended that the district implement a cycle of putting a tech levy before the voters every four years. Four years is the average life span of computer equipment used in schools.

The board will make a final decision on the final technology levy amount at a meeting Mar. 10 in the high school library.

In the technology levy recommendation made to the board on Thursday, a $7.9 million levy would provide:

• Replacement of aging computers district-wide, with a 4:1 ratio in the general classrooms, and 2:1 in science classrooms.

•Multimedia teaching stations in all classrooms, with a laptop for the teacher, ceiling-mounted projector, document camera, DVD/VHS player, speakers and interactive white board.

•Wireless technology in all classrooms and facilities.

•Professional development and technological support and training to all staff.

•Assistive technology for special education students.

•Science technology equipment such as probeware, interfaces, digital balances and biotechnology equipment.

Most of the cost for new technology – $1.7 million – would be for the purchase of computers for students. The next highest expenditure would be $1 million for 300 science computers and probes.

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