Technology big piece of planned bond issue at USD 340
by Clarke Davis
The Jefferson West school board approved the budget for next year, which calls for a mill levy increase of 4.7 mills.
Superintendent Pat Happer explained that nearly 3 mills of that amount are to fund the bond and interest fund as the final payment on the high school bonds comes due.
The remaining amount is for the local option budget, which is now at its maximum. Law allows a district to tax up to 30 percent of its general fund budget.
Happer laid it on the Legislature, stating that lawmakers have taken strides over the past three years to shift more of the cost of education to the local districts and away from the state.
No one in the audience spoke during the public hearing.
Happer asked the board members their feelings concerning a proposed bond election that would take place in the spring.
He cited technology as the centerpiece that would impact the classroom.
He said there is a trend toward “more self-directed learning” using technology with the teacher becoming more of a facilitator.
Those technology tools include laptop computers, iPods, iPads, electronic book readers, whiteboards or “smartboards,” and other devices to create a “tech-rich classroom.” A Cisco brand wireless networking system and more bandwidth were talked about.
He spoke about the electronic book readers that would replace a 20-pound backpack of textbooks and said the process would also require training for teachers in how best to use the technology.
The second item that a bond issue would resolve is the need for a new building at the football field to house concession stand, restrooms, and locker rooms for football teams.
The board’s response came from President Jeff Van Petten, who said he would support a proposal that did not exceed 5 mills for 5 years. Member Frank Sayles indicated support as well. There was no board consensus drawn, but no objections to proceeding along those lines were heard either.
Happer said a district technology committee would be assigned the job of defining exactly what the needs are to accomplish the task along with the patron’s bond committee. Another committee will be formed to look at the locker and concession building and start to develop those plans.
The board was to attend a goal-setting session at the Kansas Association of School Board’s headquarters in Topeka Aug. 9 and will hold a special meeting Tuesday, Aug. 16, to tour district facilities. That meeting begins at 6 p.m.
School will start in Jefferson West Aug. 17.
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