07-16-12: Board to review facility and technology needs
07-16-12: Board to review facility and technology needs

Replacing high school portables with permanent classroom space, updating technology, replacing aging schools, and making other school improvements are among a list of recommended projects that will come before the school board this month as directors continue discussion of a possible school bond election next year.

Eight years have passed since voters last approved a school bond in this district. The Bond Advisory Committee (BAC) formed by the school board in March has developed an initial list of facility and technology projects for the community and board to review.

“These projects are all needs, not wants,” said Billie Lane, a BAC member and Kalles Junior High math teacher. Lane is one of 10 community members and seven school district employees appointed to serve on the committee.

The committee shared its initial project recommendations with the school board on May 14 and with the community during a series of 11 public forums that began on May 15 and will end on June 12.

The final public forums are from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12 at Rogers High School, 12801 86th Ave. E. in Puyallup, and Waller Road Elementary School, 6312 Waller Road in Tacoma.

Comments made during the public meetings will be reviewed by the school board at a June 21 study session along with the committee’s recommended facility and technology projects.

The study session begins at 9 a.m. at the Education Service Center, 302 Second St. S.E. in downtown Puyallup.

A list of the projects is included in the BAC’s interim report and is posted on the Puyallup School District website at www.puyallup.k12.wa.us.

The BAC will review the public feedback and consider any modifications to its recommendations before submitting a final report at the board’s regular June 25 meeting. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Ballou Junior High, 9916 136th St. E. on South Hill.

In its initial report, the BAC recommends that the board consider placing a $267.8 million school bond on the February 12, 2013 election ballot.

The maximum amount the school district can currently seek in bonds, also known as the bonding capacity, is $350 million.

The committee was careful, members say, to create a preliminary bond package of projects that stayed within the district’s bonding capacity and demonstrated good stewardship of taxpayer money.

BAC members used a 12-year facility and technology study completed last year by the Citizens Facilities Advisory Committee as the foundation for its work.

As it developed a list of recommended projects, the BAC considered factors such as student safety, keeping technology current, equity, keeping up with growth, accommodating program learning needs, and improving the oldest buildings in the worst condition first.

Equity was especially relevant in the committee’s discussion about technology across the district.

In addition to replacing obsolete student computers and related equipment, BAC members recommend installing projectors, sound systems, and interactive white boards (also known as SMART Boards) in every classroom districtwide that does not already have the technology.

“This technology enhances student learning and is standard in all of our newly built schools,” said Rudy Fyles, executive director of education support and operations. “Students and teachers in all of our other schools need to have equal access to these learning tools.”

A final decision about when and if to present a ballot measure to voters, as well as which facility and technology projects to include, rests with the school board.

Puyallup School District voters last passed a school bond measure in 2004. Voters narrowly rejected a bond measure twice in 2007 and defeated a bond and capital levy package in 2009.