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Federal Way school technology levy will go to the voters

A new request for a school technology levy is close to being finalized.

The Federal Way School District has released a draft version of a resolution that would send the issue to a public vote in February.

School board members will decided whether to approve the resolution on Nov. 10 at the next board meeting.

If passed, the issue coming to the voters would be a $21.2 million package.

That cost would not include a new telephone system for the district, which is an urgent need, Chief Financial Officer Sally McLean said.

"It's in such a critical state," McLean said. "I am not sure how we would bridge the need" until 2012, when the new levy would kick in, she said.

The district plans to look for other funding sources to pay for the new phone system, potentially through state funding. Replacement parts aren't available for the current phone system, and the district currently buys parts on eBay. The new phone system, a voice-over IP (digital phones), would cost $3 million total.

The levy would have a staggered payment amount, costing taxpayers $1.8 million the first two years, or $30.73 a year for the average homeowner. This is the amount taxpayers are estimated to pay for the 2010 year of the technology levy. This would not add any new technology to the school district, but it would keep things running as they currently are, paying for some new computers as the oldest get recycled out.

However, after the first two years, in 2014, the amount taxpayers currently pay for the construction bond, which is estimated as $352.71 right now, will drop close to $50, down to $308.46. At that same time, the technology levy will increase to $4.4 million a year, bringing the total amount taxpayers pay for the technology levy and construction bond to $383.44, the same amount they currently pay.

The full list of technology upgrades under the levy would include continuing the annual upgrade of 20 percent of the district's oldest computers; an operating system upgrade (the district recently upgraded to Windows XP); portable electronic devices for students (generally just the older students require textbooks); new servers; wireless access; video projectors and document cameras; new technology for math and science classes; new software for grades and libraries; and additional technology staff.

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