Two students at Moorlands Elementary School in Kenmore wheel a reserved computer cart into their building. Courtesy of Northshore School District

Two students at Moorlands Elementary School in Kenmore wheel a reserved computer cart into their building. Courtesy of Northshore School District

NSD ballot measures would address technology needs, overcrowding and more

Propositions 1, 2 and 3 will be on the Feb. 13 measure.

In the 18 years that Marjie White has been teaching in the Northshore School District, she has seen quite a bit of change.

She was around before computers entered the classroom and saw the shift to having one or two in class, to one for about every five students. And thanks to various grants and pilot programs in recent years, she’s seen the ratio in her classroom come closer to one to one.

White is in her first year teaching seventh grade social studies at Canyon Middle School in Bothell and had taught at Maywood Hills Elementary School, also in Bothell, for 17 years. Currently, she shares a cart of 40 computers with the English teacher next door. So while that number is enough to ensure a computer for each student in all of her class periods, this is also dependent on whether the other teacher needs to use them in their class.

The effort to bring things to a true one-device-per-student ratio is part of an NSD levy that will be on the upcoming ballot in the Feb. 13 election.

Proposition 3: Renewal Technology Levy — which, according to the NSD website, would provide technology access to every student in all grades, while teaching them to be safe and responsible digital citizens — is one of three measures Northshore residents will vote on later this month.

The remaining measures are Proposition 1: Renewal Educational Programs & Operations Levy and Proposition 2: Capital Projects Bond.

The former covers basic education costs and makes up 20 percent of the district budget, while the latter will add much-needed capacity, easing overcrowding district wide, while also addressing equity issues, according to the district website.

PRICE BREAKDOWN

Lydia Sellie, executive director of business and finance for NSD, said the cost of Prop. 1 is $234 million over four years. Broken down, it will be $57 million in 2019, $58 million in 2020, $59 million in 2021 and $60 million in 2022.

She said district officials anticipate the levy, which would replace a current levy that expires at the end of this year, to bring the tax rate down per $1,000 assessed property value. Using an average home value of $600,000, Sellie said if the levy passes, taxpayers would pay about $1.82 per $1,000 assessed value, compared to the $1.93 per $1,000 they paid in 2017.

Funds from this levy would cover basic educational costs such as teacher salary, special education and transportation, as well as extracurricular activities such as athletics, clubs, music and drama.

Sellie said field trips may also fall under this umbrella as there are instances in which the district bears the cost and other times families do.

Prop. 2 is a $275 million capital bond for four years.

Sellie said the current tax rate is $1.78 per $1,000 per assessed value. If the bond passes, she said the district estimates the new tax rate to be $1.59.

NSD recently sent out a mailer with information on all three measures that stated the tax rate numbers for the bond were per month. Communications director Lisa Youngblood Hall said this is incorrect. The tax rate is calculated per year.

Included in the package are safety upgrades at all NSD schools, a new K-5 school on the district’s property near Maltby as well as a 30-classroom flexible-use building on the Skyview Middle School and Canyon Creek Elementary School campus in Bothell. The bond will also bring in a performing arts and instructional building as well as traffic flow revisions to Inglemoor High School in Kenmore. Sellie said they will also use the money from the bond for maintenance and operations upgrades in buildings throughout the entire district.

Traci Rogstad, NSD director of capital projects, added that the bond would also cover the infrastructure — such as wireless access points and wireless fiber — to accommodate the new devices included in the technology levy as the levy would only cover the devices themselves. So if Prop. 3 passes but Prop. 2 fails, she said they would not have the wireless access to be able to use the new computers or tablets.

If passed, Prop. 3 would replace a current technology levy. At a price tag of $62 million, it would increase the tax rate from $0.30 per $1,000 assessed value to $0.48 per $1,000.

“Our world is changing fast. We’re preparing our students for careers we can’t imagine yet,” said NSD Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid. “Teaching students to use technology plays a big role in setting them up to be the next innovators.”

She said renewing the district’s technology levy puts more devices in the hands of students at a one-to-one ratio.

“This access to technology when and where students need it means we’re not moving carts of shared computers around between classrooms or trying to schedule time for every class to use the computers in the library,” Reid said. “It also provides assistive tools for students with special needs so they can get be successful in school.”

The levy would also provide training for teachers for classroom technology use, technology to improve district communication to families and student training for online safety and digital citizenship.

Sellie said overall, the three measures would bring the tax rate from $4.01 per $1,000 assessed value to $3.89 per $1,000, starting in 2019, when the levies and bond would go into effect.

A student at Woodinville High School picks out a computer from a cart. Courtesy of Northshore School District

A student at Woodinville High School picks out a computer from a cart. Courtesy of Northshore School District

ADDRESSING GROWTH

Like a number of school districts throughout the greater Puget Sound area, NSD is seeing a boom in its enrollment.

Part of Prop. 2 is meant to address this growth.

Rogstad said the district has gained about 2,000 students in the last six years. From the last school year to this school year, she said NSD saw 700 new students, with the majority at the elementary level. In addition, she said they estimate enrollment to increase by another 1,700 to 1,800 in the next six years.

A lot of this growth is occurring in the north end of Bothell, Sellie said. There is also some growth in Kenmore, but not too much in Woodinville.

In the last six years, Rogstad said they installed 40 portable classrooms in schools around the district and this year marked the opening of North Creek High School. The latter, in addition to the district’s shift to a K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 grade pattern — which also happened this year — opened up space at the lower grade levels, she said.

“It allowed us to put full-day kindergarten at our elementary schools,” Rogstad said, adding that the grade shift and opening of NCHS was a “massive undertaking” that took four years of planning.

In addition to the overall growth, Rogstad noted that smaller class sizes for grades K-3 will be coming down the pipeline as part of the McCleary decision. She said they do not know when this will happen but this means NSD will need 40-60 more classrooms, depending on the state’s requirements.

“We know it’s hanging out there,” Rogstad said.

IMPACTS IN THE CLASSROOM

While growth can be looked at by the numbers, White has been experiencing it in her classroom. One of her classes this year has 37 students. And in previous years, she has taught in portable classrooms.

“It was literally wall-to-wall kids,” she said, adding that there would be a lot of shifting and squeezing if anyone wanted to move around the portable. “We are in desperate need of buildings.”

White noted that not only would more classroom space help alleviate the physical challenges that come with big class sizes, it would also help from a teaching and learning standpoint.

“You have one teacher trying to meet the needs of all kids,” she said. More students makes that more difficult to do.

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