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May 17 - Meeting Information

May 17, 2017

Agenda

  1. Welcome and review minutes from last meeting
    • Jake Kuper
  2. Capital Levy:  Critical Repairs springboard proposal
    • Steve Crawford and Technical Team
  3. Capital Levy:  Technology springboard proposal
    • Kathy Cropp, Diana Eggers and Technical Team
  4. Next steps and closure
    • Technical Team

Mini Summary

Official Action: The committee voted unanimously to approve the minutes from the May 3, 2018 meeting. The committee also voted to approve 33-2 the Priority 1 Critical Repair items as presented.  Lastly, the committee voted to approve 34-1 the Critical Repairs Priority 2 items as presented. 

Discussion: The committee worked to revise and refine the potential levy package. Discussion centered on the Critical Repairs List, which had been sorted by Priority 1, Priority 2 and Projects by site.  The Technology Springboard Proposal was also presented to the committee.  

Up next: Committee members will return May 31. We will have further discussion on the Technology Springboard as well as the District’s philosophical vision regarding technology. 


Meeting Minutes

2018 Levy Development Committee – May 17, 2017 Unofficial Minutes

The meeting was convened at 5:40 p.m.

ATTENDANCE
In attendance: Marta Mikkelsen, Martin Buckley, Jennifer Harrington, Joseph Jun, Sarah Manningsmith, Carrie Hipsher, George Metcalf, Amita Mathur, Fred Rundle, Kim Clarke, Andrew Pedersen, Lori Riskin, Jonathan Koshar ,Jonathan Grudin, Dawn Peschek, Alicia Veevaert, Leslie Lederman, Jane Harris, Christy Otley, Casey Stookey, Michelle Caponigro, Seth Adams, Sena Camarata, Carrie Reckling, Laila Collins, Dana Rundle, Doug Jones, Susie Kelly, John Gorow, Jody Mull, Don Burnett, Damon Muller, Nick Croppi, Shriya Kurpad, Aimee Iverson

WELCOME AND REVIEW
Mr. Kuper called the meeting to order and directed members to handouts for the meeting which had also been provided electronically to the Committee and was posted to the District website. He asked the Committee to review the minutes from the previous meeting adding that there was a Quorum present. He welcomed a new member to the Committee, Amy Iverson a Community‐at‐Large representative. It was later noted that Board members Lisa Callan and Suzanne Weaver as well as Superintendent Ron Thiele were also present.

A motion was made to approve the minutes as presented. As there was no further discussion, a vote was taken to approve the minutes as written. The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Kuper began the meeting discussing the Capital Levy which legally is run as one ballot measure but is historically is split into two conversations: Capital Improvements and Technology. He introduced Diana Eggers, Director of Instructional Technology and Kathy Cropp, Director of Technology Infrastructure as members of the Technical Team.

PRIORITY 1 AND PRIORITY 2 CRITICAL REPAIRS
Mr. Kuper directed the Committee to the three Critical Repairs lists: Priority 1 Projects, Priority 2 Projects and Projects by Site (which includes both Priority 1 and 2 items, sorted by building). He said that the information could be provided in different formats after the meeting upon request. Mr. Kuper said that the items on the Critical Repairs List, the Tech Levy and the M&O would eventually feed into the master tax graphs and spreadsheets showing the historic and projected tax rates for the measures that may be pushed forward.

Referring to the Priority 1 attachment, Mr. Kuper said many items on the list had been solicited from all buildings by the Capital Projects and Maintenance Departments; several projects were included centrally. He pointed the Committee to the Total Estimated Cost of $14,165,200 on the combined report which represents the total for all Priority 1 and 2 items. Mr. Kuper said that he must make an assumption of what will be put forward and the resulting tax rate; the tax rate graphs that will be presented later will reflect this amount. Mr. Crawford directed the Committee to the Critical Repairs Project Terms and Codes which would provide more detail on the categories and keys used on the report.

A Committee member asked what criteria was used to determine priority. Mr. Crawford answered that Priority 1 items include projects that have higher importance, are safety related, effect the integrity of the building envelope, and are required to meet code; Priority 2 items tend to be aesthetically oriented and not so functionally necessary. He agreed it was a professional judgment call as to where items fall on the list and how they are included on the Springboard proposal.

Referring to the Priority 1 list, Mr. Kuper said that there are general themes that while not exciting, are important to the upkeep and ongoing maintenance of district facilities. He commented there were several requests for food services equipment at various buildings which is expensive, adding that the only time a building gets new equipment is in a remodel or new construction, or levy. Also noted are commonalities‐in‐need between buildings that are similar in age, vintage and design. Items not included on the list may be funded under the previous bond or levies or may not have been considered a legitimate request.

Referencing the Project Terms and Codes handout, Mr. Kuper noted that each project includes primary and secondary category and systems descriptions. As an example, he explained that Cougar Ridge includes previous bond and levy money for office relocation and classroom additions (the same is true for Discovery and Endeavour); however, there was a request on this levy to upgrade the HVAC system to extend its use and improve energy conservation. A Committee member asked why the HVAC system was not fully funded in the previous bond or levy cycle. Mr. Kuper responded that sometimes the life of the equipment is not as long as hoped; also, when constructing a bond there are items that must fall off the list to keep a level tax rate.

A member asked about Discovery and work that had been approved in a previous levy; Mr. Kuper responded that oftentimes, work is strung together across levies and may be combined into a larger project. Another Committee member asked if Sunset would be getting new food services equipment during its current expansion project. Mr. Crawford responded that because the kitchen is being rebuilt it will get new food services equipment in that project. Mr. Kuper added that Sunset did not have any HVAC work included on this levy, because that work was completed 3 years ago using a state energy conservation grant and prior bond money.

A Committee member commented on the request to replace playground chips with rubber matting at several elementary buildings with a cost of $150K per site; are there other places we should consider spending this amount of money? Mr. Kuper responded that we try to have a standard of consistency across the District; new schools have soft rubber surfacing which provides safety and improves ADA impact levels under elementary play equipment. Mr. Crawford added that rubber surface is constant, while chips get moved around and as a result fall depth is not what it should be leading to a high propensity for injury.

Mr. Kuper acknowledged that replacing chips was expensive; it costs up to $30K to refill one large playground with chips. In addition, playground experts note the likelihood of injury using chips over rubber mats. Mr. Kuper commented that rubber mats are the standard for new buildings since Grand Ridge opened in 2006 due to savings and operating values. Mr. Kuper stated that the Capital Levy is often used to save money on the operating side of the District budget. In other words, money spent from capital funds can be leveraged to put more money in the classrooms. Mr. Kuper said that sometimes it takes $1M to save $100K annually, but if it pays money back over 5 years and saves money for the General Fund it is something we like to do. A Committee member asked about the life span for rubber matting; in response Mr. Crawford answered that the rubber matting at Grand Ridge which was installed over 11 years ago is still in very good shape and had several more years of use.

A Committee member asked what percentages of items were not presented on the Priority 1 and 2 lists. Mr. Crawford answered that there was $5M in requests that were not listed as Priority 1 or 2 items. The majority of those requests are funded by a previous bond or levy includes projects at Cougar Ridge, Sunset, Discovery, Endeavour, Maple Hills and Beaver Lake. He added that the Priority 1 list includes $11.5M in requests.  A member asked about any Priority 1 items that did not make the list; Mr. Kuper responded that these items were designated “Priority 0” meaning they were previously funded or did not meet criteria for Priority 1 and 2 lists.

Mr. Kuper was asked to clarify the role of the Committee members in the review of the priority lists as well as the members’ role in the final decision. Mr. Kuper responded that Committee members have a multi‐faceted role. First, depending on the Committee member’s role, they should review the list of items with their building principal or PTSA.  Secondly, there is “a reasonable person standard” which is making sure that the thinking of the Administration is in line with community values at the time. In other words, can we explain in a rational way that what we are bringing to you is transparent, accountable and reasonable. Finally, after the Committee meets the campaign work begins; at that point Committee members are “ambassadors of fact” to the community.

Sometimes a Committee may request we revise the package proposal and in turn we would revise our package totals. “You are the first link in a reasonable test” and also perform an advocacy role in supporting the decision, Mr. Kuper said.

A Committee member noted that there was $3M in turf replacements and lighting projects; he asked about the useable life of turf fields and whether these replacements were 6 months out or 5 years away. Mr. Kuper responded that the two field turf replacements at Issaquah and Skyline High Schools are the second most expensive items on the Priority 1 list. Mr. Crawford answered that the Issaquah HS turf was replaced in 2010 and has another 4‐5 years of usability; the Skyline turf was due for replacement last year but was redressed last summer in order to extend its usability. The Skyline turf would be replaced first while the Issaquah field would be replaced later under this levy which runs 2019‐2022. Mr. Kuper added that the last levy cycle included the addition of turf fields at the middle schools with replacement cycles planned every 10‐12 years; middle school fields may last longer as they have less wear and tear than high school fields. Over the next 5‐10 years Mr. Kuper estimates there will be six fields to replace at a cost of $1.3M each to keep them in safe, working order.

Another Committee member commented that when she hears pushback from the community about these projects, it is not about what we do but how much it costs. In other words, community members understand the need for a middle school but not necessarily the expense. Mr. Kuper responded that the district is typically lower than its neighbors in cost per square foot. We hire professional estimators and because of the amount of construction we have, we have a great deal of historical cost averaging and real world pricing available from similar projects. There are other variables to consider that impact scope, permitting and inflation. Because of the work done at Pine Lake, Clark and Issaquah MS, we have detailed cost estimating from the general contractor.  He confirmed that the costs are in line with recent projects in other districts.

A Committee member was concerned that there may be items missing from the Priority 1 and 2 lists that were requested by stakeholders; what is the process for ensuring that any items requested were not missed?

Using Gibson Ek as an example, Mr. Kuper commented on the need for additional space due to their ever‐ evolving program; as a result there is funding in the proposal to use adjacent space on the old Issaquah MS site to accommodate their 250‐student maximum. There are options to add portables, use the former auxiliary gym, and retrofit the existing locker rooms to increase capacity. The building also has smaller needs which can be addressed separately using other funding. Mr. Kuper noted that building principals are very good advocates for their school, students and staff but they may not be aware that they need a new roof for example.

Consequently, we add items to the list based on maintenance records that may have higher priority than other requests. He did note that at some point the Committee must make a final decision on the request that goes to the Superintendent and a specific tax rate; it is Mr. Kuper’s responsibility to make sure 70‐80% of residents who do not have K‐12 children are taxed appropriately.

A Committee member asked for a process to ensure all items on list had been reviewed by each building. Mr. Kuper responded that Committee members could send any specific questions or building requests to the Levy email and the Administration would respond individually rather than involving the entire Committee. The Committee could vote what’s on the list, wait to discuss all items, change priorities, or verify if any items are missed before voting. He reiterated that the Priority 1 and 2 items are what the Administration was recommending based on the current tax rate and need, listing them by what was most important and what was second most important.

A Committee member asked why field there was no reserve built into the total estimated costs as is done with a bond.  Mr. Kuper responded that a 10% contingency on a $14M request is usually not necessary; for example the inflationary pressure on a $120M high school project is much greater than on smaller individual repair projects.

A Committee member asked why field lighting was requested for just two middle schools (PLMS and IMS). Mr. Kuper and Mr. Crawford responded that lighting on fields is related to the permitting process; both PLMS and IMS were previously approved to add lighting in the SEPA process for their rebuild projects. The process to add lighting at the other middle schools would require a more lengthy permitting process with King County or other jurisdictions.

Another Committee member commented that neighbors to these buildings would have opinions regarding lighting and had that been taken into consideration. Mr. Crawford responded that this information was disclosed on the SEPA checklist during the permitting process with the City of Issaquah and City of Sammamish. Each City approved the lighting as part of the permit process and community members have the opportunity to comment or voice concerns at that time. Mr. Kuper added that some sites lend themselves better to lighting depending on proximity to residences noting the fields at PLMS and IMS are not situated close to homes. Other factors that are considered are bell time changes as well as improvements in light disruption with more focused field lighting on field.

A question was asked if more groups would rent the fields if lighting were provided. Mr. Kuper responded that it would elongate our field time for both District and community use although it will not generate more money from rentals. There are many community‐based youth groups and programs such as ISF and PTSA that do not pay for field or building use or receive a discounted rate; they essentially pay to turn on the lights, hire a custodian or pay overtime to staff. He added that the District charges for‐profit groups higher rates for operating expenses.

A Committee member asked if there was a plan to light other middle school fields. Mr. Kuper answered that the District has long‐term capital and political plans that depend on factors such as need, community demand, equity, and enrollment. He noted that our city partners are currently in their park planning process including allocation of park funds; King County offers block grants while others may award money for other specific lighting or turf projects. Mr. Kuper noted that the District has the most field space in the region and high community demand; we would like to partner with these jurisdictions in their park planning process. Mr. Kuper reiterated that lighting on the PLMS and IMS fields was on the list because both sites were already permitted and least impactful to neighbors due to their location.

A Committee member asked if the District has invested in items to reduce long‐term costs and if there were any items in the proposal to do so. Mr. Kuper responded that Superintendent Thiele is a strong proponent of sustainability. For several years, the District has employed a Resource Conservation Manager who monitors energy incentives and District energy and water usage; as a result, we have avoided costs of $15M in utility expense. Mr. Crawford noted that since 2000 the District has doubled its building square footage yet energy consumption overall has gone up just 3%. He added that 5‐6 years ago, State energy grants let us retrofit lighting and plumbing fixtures; new buildings are outfitted with LED lighting inside and out. He added that the District moves to minimize ongoing yearly expenses by capitalizing costs including the installation of more efficient lighting and ceiling fans that reduce energy consumption and improve comfort level. Mr. Crawford noted that there were boiler and heat pump replacements in the proposal that would help reduce operational costs and make the buildings more efficient and sustainable.

Mr. Kuper asked the Committee to meet at their tables to discuss the Priority 1 and Priority 2 items on the lists.

After the Committee reconvened, a member asked what the District record was for completing the critical repair items on previous levies. Mr. Crawford responded that the District does a good job and bundles some items with upcoming remodel projects. Mr. Kuper said that personally, politically, and professionally the District keeps its promises because we are legally obligated under the ballot language to fulfill the items.  We may need to shift money due to unforeseen issues, but the goal is to keep promises and get projects done, particularly new building construction. In response to a question, Mr. Kuper commented that both Discovery and Cougar Ridge have large projects funded over two financing cycles. Each school has a $1.25M office relocation project funded under the 2014 Levy; in addition, each building has a classroom addition project to add capacity out of the 2016 bond. He explained that rather than running two separate projects and disrupting a building twice, the District bundles the two projects together and does the work at one time. Sometimes projects will slide in timeline due to economics and enrollment growth.  For example, expansion and relocation at Cougar Ridge will take place this summer; the projects at Discovery and Endeavour will be in design this fall with construction following in 2018‐19; similar projects planned for Maple Hills and BLMS will follow.

A motion was made and seconded to approve the Priority 1 proposal. A member asked how the items on the list change the tax rate. Mr. Kuper said that the capital measures as presented do not move the tax rate; bifurcation or the dual requests of the maintenance and operation levy moves tax rate. In other words, what drives the tax rate is whether we have continued increase in local levy authority. As he noted before, it is unknown where the levy authority will go; the capital proposals keep a level levy rate but if the Board or Legislature provides an increase on our local levy authority that could result in an increase to tax rate.

Mr. Kuper asked for further discussion on the motion. A member asked fellow Committee members to go back to their constituents before voting on the proposals to make sure they were meeting their building needs and obligations; he did not feel the group had been given enough time to review the list in detail. Mr. Kuper responded that new items can be added to the levy package at any time; the group can recommend new items as a stand‐a‐lone group or reprioritize the original list to add or remove items. Mr. Kuper said the Committee is not locked into the priority list; one action does not bar you from making another action.

Another Committee member agreed that more time was needed to consider all items, suggesting that the group approve the Priority 1 items but consider adding others before the last meeting. In response to a question regarding Maple Hills, Mr. Crawford noted that several proposed items not included on the list would be addressed in the future expansion project.  Another concern was the effect of adding more Priority 1 items at the expense of Priority 2’s while addressing needs at all buildings. Mr. Kuper commented that while some buildings are older than others in the District, we try to be consistent with improvements. Ultimately, adding more items to the list, effects the ability to maintain a stable tax rate.

A Committee member commented that there is an assumption that the Administration had done their due diligence to determine the Priority 1 and 2 items and that the building principals had been included in this process. Mr. Kuper responded that every action the Committee takes is a piece of the puzzle; ultimately the group will vote on the whole puzzle (levy package) but until then items can be added and subtracted. The group will eventually discuss tax rates and possibly recommend two levy rates to the Board and Superintendent. He added that the Springboard process is meant to be transparent and flexible.

Another member asked if it was her responsibility to solicit input from the principal or is that handled by Administration. Mr. Kuper answered that conversations with principals and Administration are ongoing. During the process, he responds to specific building requests and makes suggestions based on Maintenance records and Capital Projects’ observations. Levy Committee decisions will be shared with building principals at the next All Administrators meeting. The Superintendent and Administration will review the package again before presenting it to the Board for public discussion.

A Committee member commented that while some schools may not have many projects included on this levy, several have projects funded by the 2016 Bond; for example, Maple Hills is slated for a $7M expansion. Another Committee member added it is important for the District to share information on projects being funded and provide more community outreach to sell the value of bonds and levies; this demonstrate the District’s care in addressing facility needs. Mr. Kuper agreed and directed the Committee to the Capital Projects website that was created to provide a virtual presence; the site includes photos, plans and aerials related to all approved Bond projects.

A Committee member asked if reader boards can be used to thank voters for supporting these projects. Mr. Kuper answered that we cannot use public dollars to support measures but we can thank the voters after elections; we can provide facts not advocacy. He acknowledged that we could make better use of electronic reader boards for this purpose. Mr. Crawford added that Capital Projects has posted “Thank You” signage on bond project sites.

A building Principal shared that the District gives the buildings many opportunities to provide input from staff, families and students. He appreciated the Committee’s desire to fully represent the concerns of their buildings. In his opinion, the needs of the buildings are fully communicated to the Administration and the items on the Priority 1 and 2 lists are accurate reflections building needs. He assured the group that months of work takes place at the district level to create these lists and building feedback is part of the process.

As there was no further discussion, a vote was taken on the motion to approve all Priority 1 items as presented. By a show of hands, the Priority 1 items were approved by a count of 33‐2.

Mr. Kuper then directed the Committee to the Priority 2 list which represents a smaller total but was sorted the same as Priority 1 items. He reiterated that the data could be presented in a different format and upon request, the data would be provided in an Excel version.

Mr. Kuper directed the Committee to the playground chip replacements on the Priority 2 lists. Mr. Crawford said that although not all buildings requested this, he included them for all older elementary schools to provide the same standard. Typically, items not specifically requested by the buildings are placed on the Priority 2 list. As previously noted, Mr. Turney said it takes $100K annually to replace wood chips district‐wide, which comes out of the Maintenance budget. By using the Capital Levy, we can free up these funds to pay directly for education. It was noted that besides the cost savings over time, there is a savings in staff time related to maintaining the chips on a daily basis. Mr. Kuper added that if a child falls awkwardly onto hard play area they can get hurt; an even play area prevents injury.

A Committee member commented that besides the cost savings there are intangibles to consider; do we want principals dealing with accident reports and custodial responsibilities or working with students and teachers? In other words, we need to be sensitive to the taxpayers as well as our overall mission; it is not just about equipment but the ramifications.

A Committee member asked if there is a savings on liability insurance with chip replacement. Mr. Kuper responded that there could be savings if accident rates go down. Claims can be volatile and we are growing in square footage so insurance rates do go up; currently it costs the District $1.6M annually for insurance on buildings and buses. The chip replacement helps mitigate our risk premiums but Mr. Kuper said it is hard to know specifically if rates will go down. Mr. Turney commented that rubber matting provides reliability as the chips shift gradually over time and provide less cushion which is a safety concern.

A Committee member felt that the chip replacement was categorically different than other items on the Priority 2 list as it had a safety component; should chip replacement be a Priority 1 item instead? Mr. Kuper said if the Priority 2 items were approved they would ultimately be on the same final approved list as the Priority 1 items.

A Committee member asked about the request to replace desks and chairs at Maywood. Mr. Kuper replied that most building furniture is replaced during a remodel or rebuild. While Maywood had an extensive remodel, new furniture was not provided in the older classrooms.  He added that furnishings can make things more comfortable and add to the learning environment although it is expensive (about $10K per classroom for a set of desks and chairs). The District often partners with ISF, buildings and PTSA’s to replace building furniture.

A Committee member asked for confirmation that Clark would receive rubber matting as part of its rebuild and buildings being expanded are included on the Priority 2 list for chip replacement. Mr. Crawford answered that the expansion projects did not include improvements to the playgrounds and that was why these buildings were included in the list for chip replacement. He confirmed that all new elementary schools including Clark (that was funded by the 2012 Bond) will receive rubber matting.

A Committee member asked if requests made to the PTA’s for equipment should be included on the Capital Levy. Mr. Kuper responded that traditional classroom items and consumables are not funded by capital funds unless it is to outfit a brand new building. These items are typically purchased from the General Fund or building budget. Sometimes there are items that a community member feels strongly about (climbing walls, water conservation equipment, etc.) and those grass root items may be considered. The District does needs‐ assessments and hears from constituents on building issues; decisions are based around what we think is going to happen and what the buildings need.

It was noted that there were several painting projects on the list. Mr. Kuper responded that painting is funded by a bond for new projects, the operating fund/General Fund or a levy. The District has three painters on staff who paints classrooms, parking lots, as well as interior/exterior touch ups; their annual salaries and benefits total $240K. Paint is one of the simplest ways to keep up aesthetics, meet community expectations and manage upkeep. Mr. Kuper again emphasized that money spent here does not come from General Fund.

A motion was made and seconded to approve all Priority 2 items as presented.

Mr. Kuper reminded the group that approving the items would not bar the members from going back to their principals and bringing forward any new items for consideration; it is an incremental process and nothing is locked in stone until the Final Recommendation that goes to the Superintendent.

As there was no further discussion, a vote was taken on the motion to approve all Priority 2 items as presented. By a show of hands, the Priority 2 items were approved by a count of 34‐1.

TECHNOLOGY SPRINGBOARD PROPOSAL
The Committee took a short break before reconvening to discuss the Technology Springboard Proposal. Mr. Kuper directed the Committee to Lines 153 – 173 of the proposal; items in blue represent carry forward or maintenance of current program; items in green represent critical enhancements.

Before proceeding, Mr. Kuper described the theme of this request stating that the State Legislature says they will provide some funds for technology but in reality, they don’t. However, there is an expectation to provide technology based on Board and community demands. Pointing to the Board End and Mission statements posted in the room, Mr. Kuper said that technology is specifically called out over other disciplines; it is important that students live up to this end statement as we are located in the backyard of many large tech companies. Technology is an accelerant for learning and students are creators of technology; career and college readiness is connected to technology. To meet these ends, the District must have technology to teach and deliver knowledge. The District infrastructure begins at the Admin facility; it goes out to each building, is delivered through servers to teacher stations, and teachers interface with students thru technology in the classroom. Technology takes on many shapes at each building depending on the grade level and subject matter. Mr. Kuper stated technology is ubiquitous but highly underfunded by the Legislature. The Technology Springboard represents carry forward of maintenance items with enhancements and updates. For example, the District installs wireless, but if wireless improves, we upgrade systems. The District has 17K computers that are on a 5‐ year replacement cycle and Mr. Kuper did not expect a change to the term of the cycle.

Mr. Kuper noted that enhancements on the Springboard represent the District’s greatest concerns and areas for improvement that are within our control. He reiterated that the District faces financial uncertainty from the Legislature on the operating side; we don’t know what our levy authority will be or our per‐pupil funding. Historically, the statute related to tech levies was restrictive related to staff funding but that had changed in recent years. In the past, the District took a cautious approach by funding just 50% of its tech staff from its tech levy; the belief was that the District could save at least half of the tech staff should a tech levy fail. Mr. Kuper reminded the Committee that without tech levies, the District would have to use the General Fund to pay for tech staff or go without tech staff in the buildings. Having technology support staff in the buildings minimizes lost instruction.

Mr. Kuper directed the Committee to lines 4‐9 of the Springboard proposal that represented the cost to fund tech staff. He stated that with this Springboard proposal the District had made a philosophical shift to fund 100% of tech staff from the tech levy and this amount is included under Critical Enhancements.

A Committee member noted 100% funding of tech salaries on the levy would free up funds from the General Fund for classrooms but asked if it provided for an increase in tech staff. Mr. Kuper answered that the proposal accounted for additional staff at new facilities. In addition, the District had accounted for recalibration, reorganization/addition of staff, increased hours and outsourcing to support technology.

A Committee member asked how much of the tech budget is not funded by the tech levy. Mr. Kuper said that less than $1M‐$2M is spent on traditional technology from the General Fund in addition to 50% of tech staff salaries. It was noted that these funds are critical to meeting the technology mission of the District, but as previously stated taking the funds from the General Fund is a hit on operating expenses. Mr. Kuper pointed to the manner in which the District is funded. For example, if the State provided an additional $10M a year into system ($500 per student) that was allocated for technology, they would have to raise taxes. If the State raised taxes, could the District also go to the voters for a levy? Mr. Kuper said this is why State funding and local funding are not mutually exclusive, but sometimes they are at odds. He reminded the Committee that the District’s tech budget has been consistent since the late 80’s and during that time it has not failed a levy. This is one reason the District has made the change philosophically to fund the tech staff at 100% instead of 50%. While the District is not prohibited from using the General Fund for technology, this is money that can be used in the classroom. Mr. Kuper added that besides salaries, the tech levy funds professional development and pays teachers for maintenance of their web sites which the community and staff demand.

Mr. Kuper reminded the Committee that the Issaquah School District is funded near the bottom in the state of Washington; we are wealthy demographically, but we are 270 out of 295 districts in per pupil funding, and third to last in state revenue per‐pupil. He commented that the reason the District can run a decent system is due to capital levies which allow us to “mask our deficiencies” against districts like Bellevue and Mercer Island; we maintain our operations without taking money out of the classroom.

A Committee member asked if it was a risk to fund all IT staff under a single levy. Mr. Kuper said there would be no more risk now than there would be in failing an M&O Levy; if the District could not sustain its levy cycle this could be a risk. Historically, the District does not have difficulty passing levies although we do not take this for granted. Mr. Kuper added that if this levy failed he did not feel it would be due to fully funding tech staff. If the levy failed there would be broader issues in the community. In his opinion, it is more risky not to alleviate pressure on the General Fund; we cannot control the Legislature but we can focus on the option of using capital levies.

A Committee member felt that there was a critical enhancement that was overlooked in the Springboard proposal.  He has researched technology in various school districts state‐wide and outside the state.  His four top priorities in education: pedagogy, professional development for teachers, infrastructure, and technology. However, in his opinion, there is a real change in technology that other districts are taking on that Issaquah is not addressing in this proposal. When every student has a device they carry around (Kindle, IPad, Chromebook, laptop) it changes the nature of learning. They make the decision on how to use the technology. The cost for many devices is dropping quickly; teachers are learning about technology from their students. He pointed to the technology webpage from the Kent School District which had gone to One‐to‐One computing; besides increasing student success, the program improved student equality as students who did not have computers could now use one at home. He noted that other local districts including Bellevue, Mercer Island and Lake Washington were now using One‐to‐One computing. Using Bellevue as an example, he stated that three years ago just one middle and high school were using One‐to‐One; however, because the program was so successful every middle and high school student will be issued a device this September.  In addition, the price per laptop has come down in the last four years ($1500 4 years ago; $300 now). In his opinion, this is an opportunity that the Issaquah School District is not planning for while other Districts have.

Mr. Kuper acknowledged that this was a valid point and there has been conversation at the Administration level on the topic; there is no instructional agreement on the benefits of One‐to‐One computing for K‐5.  However, the District is numerically very close; district‐wide we have 17K machines for 20K kids. We believe at the end of this levy cycle, for certain portions of our system, we can be at One‐to‐One or have machines checked out. Mr. Kuper said that there are funds allocated for the replacement cycle not called out specifically for One‐to‐One.To implement the system, the District would need a standard device and time for the program to evolve within the instructional environment. The Committee member felt it is psychologically different for students when they can take the unit home vs. leaving the devices at school. Mr. Kuper responded that the District would more likely have a check out program for some of its student population; in reality, most students in our District have a device of their own. Mr. Kuper added that there are pros and cons to deploying One‐to‐One. When Administration had to prioritize One‐to‐One implementation or funding staff to support the technology, we chose to fund staff and keep our tax rate stable. If we had more taxing capacity and sufficient set‐up the Administration may be in line philosophically. Mr. Kuper stated that the District wants to sow seeds for implementation at or during next cycle with One‐to‐One in full deployment by the next levy cycle. Superintendent Thiele commented there is no agreement on One‐to‐One, but when the Committee gets to the tax rate discussion, they would see the concerns. He agreed with Mr. Kuper that there had been vigorous debate in the organization on One‐to‐One. Mr. Kuper continued that while the Administration agreed to the advantages of One‐to‐One, other districts have made mistakes by not fully planning deployment. The Committee member acknowledged that the Lake Washington School District had made mistakes in their deployment; however, Bellevue is 7 years ahead of us in this cycle and has had strong success.

A Committee member asked how the team envisioned a check‐out system, how large would it be and was it built into proposal. Mr. Kuper said that in their discussions a system could be income‐based but done in a way so as not to identify socioeconomic status. As an example, Mr. Kuper pointed out that each student at Gibson Ek has a laptop and Start Strong students take computers home. However, Hanover Research said there was no positive academic impact for students using laptops on the Start Strong program.

Another Committee member who supported the One‐to‐One recommendation added that she did not see any innovation in the Tech proposal; what is the strategic technology plan for the District? Mr. Kuper answered that the dollars in the proposal represent our best guess for current technology costs. The list represents where we plan to spend the money but it does not mean we will not purchase new technology. He did note that this does not include experimental technology. A Committee member said if the One‐to‐One movement started over 10 years ago, how are we helping students meet this key Board end.  Mr. Kuper responded that while One‐to‐One is a significant movement, the District is fulfilling our academic mission. He said our achievement data is “awesome” noting that even some private schools are going without technology and there are concerns on how much students should interface daily with technology. While this may be something to consider if the District had tax rate capacity, Mr. Kuper said it did not make the cut during the Administration’s process. A Committee member stated that her building only had 2 laptop carts that were purchased by its PTA and students have limited time in the computer lab. Mr. Kuper stated the plan does push more equipment to the buildings in the next four years such as I‐Pads, laptops and other new devices in the next four years; it is expensive to deploy technology for 20K students.

A Committee member asked for more documents representing the District’s thinking around the Technology Springboard Proposal and its vision for the next four years. Mr. Kuper responded that the Committee would receive current computer levels per building; in addition, District staff will present its technological mission and device allocation under the proposal at the next meeting.

A Committee member felt that the proposal was missing a tech vision and would like to know what the District’s IT footprint would be in 2022. In his opinion, the Tech Springboard is just numbers and did not represent where the District would be at the end of the Levy. Mr. Kuper responded that the Technical Team would provide a philosophical context and vision to the Committee. He acknowledged that his job is to cost out the District technology needs; however, the list is static but the funds are not. The Committee member added that the District’s tech‐heavy community could help with that vision.

The meeting ended at 8:16 p.m.


Materials