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Tech levy campaign led by Students for Federal Way Schools

Riley Germanis and Charlene Yamasaki are two high school students leading the campaign to pass the Federal Way School District technology levy in February. - Andy Hobbs/The Mirror
Riley Germanis and Charlene Yamasaki are two high school students leading the campaign to pass the Federal Way School District technology levy in February.
— image credit: Andy Hobbs/The Mirror

This year, the loudest supporters of the technology levy bond put forth by the Federal Way School District are those who know the most about how technology affects education — students.

Charlene Yamasaki, and senior at Thomas Jefferson High School, and Riley Germanis, a senior at Todd Beamer High School, are leading the campaign to pass the $21.2 million levy, which will before voters in the Feb. 9 special election.

"Technology has changed the way (teachers) taught," Riley said. "Imagine a classroom without a computer. That's what it is without the levy. All the effects we have now is because someone before us put in the effort."

They have already started getting the word out using technology in the form of a Facebook group called Students for Federal Way Schools — and already they have more than 450 members. They have already used the Facebook page to organize a sign making event on Saturday.

The group is an offshoot of Citizens for Federal Way Schools. They also have their own Web site: www.yesforfwschools.org. The site also has some new technology on it as well, including a PayPal setup for people to donate toward the campaign.

The campaign is still in the early stages, and a full-blown run will kick off in January.

Students leading a campaign isn't unheard of, but it certainly isn't the norm. Riley's mom, Audrey Germanis, who is president of Citizens for Federal Way Schools, said that students did lead a levy campaign in Yakima last year.

However, Audrey brought Riley up campaigning for school funding. He's been helping with campaigns since he was walking, she said.

Yamasaki believes in the cause too, having just finished her first PowerPoint presentation for a class and knowing she will need those skills in any future career.

There is a lot riding on the campaign's success.

"Failure really isn't an option," Superintendent Tom Murphy said of the tech levy. "Our kids deserve to be better prepared for the 21st century."

If the levy does not pass in February, Murphy said the district will try again to pass the levy.

Levy facts

If the levy passes in February, the amount homeowners currently pay will not change, said district spokeswoman Diane Turner.

The current tech levy will expire at the end of 2010; the new levy would begin the next year. To the average homeowner, the levy would cost about $30.73 a year. The first two years of the new levy would just continue the current levy, bringing in $1.8 million a year. In the third through sixth year, the levy would increase to address tech equity and move the district toward a one-to-one ratio of students to computers, bringing in $4.4 million a year. However, since the cost of the current construction bond will go down in another two years, even once the tech levy costs go up, homeowners will still be paying the same amount they do in 2010.

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