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Bellevue Votes on $187 Million School Levies

Deborah Wang
02/07/2006

Voters in Bellevue are going to the polls today to vote on $187 million in school levies. About a quarter of that money would go to improve technology in the schools. But one taxpayer group says the school district is pushing technology at the expense of basic skills. KUOW’S Deborah Wang reports.

THERE ARE TWO SCHOOL LEVIES ON THE BALLOT IN BELLEVUE. ONE FOR 136 MILLION DOLLARS WOULD FUND BASIC OPERATIONS, INCLUDING TEACHER SALARIES, TEXTBOOKS, AND TEACHER TRAINING, AMONG OTHER THINGS. A SECOND, 51 MILLION DOLLAR LEVY, WOULD PAY FOR TECHNOLOGY IMPROVEMENTS IN THE SCHOOLS. ANN OXREIDER OF THE BELLEVUE SUPERINTENDENT’S OFFICE SAYS THE MONEY IS CRITICAL. IT REPRESENTS MORE THAN 20 PERCENT OF THE DISTRICT’S OPERATING BUDGET.

OXREIDER: “Initially, when state agreed to fund basic education, levies were for the sake of enhancements, but these days the state funding is not adequate to support basic education so all school districts are going to the voters for just the basics.”

BUT A TAXPAYER GROUP HAS BEEN FIGHTING THE LEVIES, AND ITS SUPPORTERS SAY THEY HAVE KNOCKED ON 3000 DOORS IN THE DISTRICT TO GET THEIR MESSAGE ACROSS. WYNN CANNON IS CHAIRMAN OF THE LEAGUE OF WASHINGTON TAXPAYERS. HE SAYS THE SCHOOL LEVIES ARE EXCESSIVE, AND THAT PROPERTY TAXES ARE ALREADY TOO HIGH. BUT HE TAKES PARTICULAR ISSUE WITH THE TECHNOLOGY LEVY. HE SAYS THE SCHOOLS ARE PUTTING TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON TECHNOLOGY AND NOT ENOUGH ON BASIC SKILLS.

CANNON: “We do not think that computers in the elementary structure of our schools are going to enhance the education of these students and they should be taught the basics, which are reading, writing and arithmetic then apply that so children have a comprehension ability when they get in to high school.”

BUT SCHOOL OFFICIALS SAY ONLY SOME OF THE MONEY WOULD BE SPENT ON COMPUTERS IN THE CLASSROOMS. THE BULK OF IT WOULD FUND TOOLS TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN PARENTS AND TEACHERS. FOR EXAMPLE, THE SCHOOL WANTS TO PUT ITS CURRICULUM ON THE WEB, SO THAT PARENTS CAN PARTICIPATE IN WHAT THEIR KIDS ARE LEARNING. SCHOOL OFFICIALS SAY THEY HAVE WIDE SUPPORT FOR THEIR EFFORTS, SINCE MANY IN THE COMMUNITY WORK AT MICROSOFT OR OTHER TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES. THE LAST SCHOOL LEVIES PASSED FOUR YEARS AGO WITH MORE THAN 70 PERCENT PUBLIC SUPPORT.

DEBORAH WANG, KUOW NEWS.

© Copyright 2006, KUOW

12.10.18

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