How the Kalispell School District hopes to make its case for a Technology levy

Apr 16, 2014

Flathead High School Library Media Specialist Murry Graham has been using funds from his media budget to buy computers, Kalispell's high school have been operating without a technology budget since 2010.
Credit Katrin Frye

The Kalispell School District is trying a little different approach as it asks voters to approve a $1.2-million Technology Levy.

It’s asking voters for a 10-year Technology Levy for both the high school and elementary school districts. Each request is $600,000 per year, over the ten year period.

A 2010 building reserve and technology levy failed to pass for the high school district, it passed for the elementary schools.

Kalispell tried again, and failed in 20-12.

Information Technology Director for District Five Richard Lawrence said this is the first time the District is trying to pass a technology-only levy. He said they’re asking voters to approve the request because the need is great.

“Not only statewide, but nationwide; in the last seven years, there’s been a 40-percent increase in curriculum that’s delivered through technology means. And, since it’s been in the last seven years, a lot of this older equipment- because of the new browsers and that type of thing that’s needed to deliver this new curriculum, we’re struggling with older equipment,” Lawrence said.

Last year Kalispell Schools built new classrooms to address overcrowding at the elementary level after voters approved a building reserve levy. Outreach Coordinator Mike Kofford for the school district says this technology levy follows a similar style of making a very specific request of voters.

Opening lines of communication with the public is part of the District’s approach. This evening it’s hosting a community forum where teachers will show how technology is being used at school, as well as breaking down what the 10-year-tech plan looks like.

“Technology is advancing and changing so rapidly you have to have a long term plan in place to keep cutting edge and relevant. And I think that’s the difference, and I think there’s a big difference between, say, doing some site repairs, and planning to have a relevant education for a student next year, plus ten years in the future,” Kofford said.

Ballots get sent out April 21st, due back by May 6th. If passed, a Kalispell resident with a house assessed at a value of $200,000 would pay about $42 -per-year, or $3.50-per-month.

More information about the Technology Levy is available through the District 5 website.