The core beliefs of the Technology Review Committee. Submitted photo

The core beliefs of the Technology Review Committee. Submitted photo

Committee discusses future of technology at Tahoma

The committee has met several times this school year to come up with a technology plan for the Tahoma School District.

A committee of community members, Tahoma School District staff, parents and students have been working together to come up with a four year plan for the use of technology in the classroom.

The committee has met three times this school year, along with subcommittee meetings in between, focusing on specific elements of classroom technology, according to the school district’s website.

The goal of the committee is to make a tentative technology plan that will eventually make its way to the school board to review, and then determine technology usage in the classrooms.

With the failing of the technology levy in February 2018, Dawn Wakeley, executive director of teaching and learning, said the district has been feeling the impact and needs to come up with a plan to fix it.

She said the Technology Model the committee has been working on is taking a comprehensive look at where the district is at with technology and what needs to be added in the classrooms.

When the levy failed in February, the district had the option to run it again during the April election, but chose not to.

Wakeley said this is because, “We needed to make sure that we had a fine tuned (plan) and that’s what we’ve been working on this fall.”

To cut back on some spending, Wakeley said, the district extended when they refresh student devices. She said, usually they refresh them after four years but this school year, they extended that to five years.

Students have also been feeling the affects of the five year old devices because they are becoming slower, she said.

Staff have also felt an impact with their tools as well.

Wakeley said any piece of technology, computer wise, is funded with the technology levy, including software programs. After the levy failed in February 2018, the district also had to cut back on improving software programs. She added, even the WiFi is paid for by money from the technology levy.

Aside from the obvious technology usage in the district, like computers, Wakeley also said tools utilized in health and fitness classes are funded through the technology levy.

For example, heart rate monitors that allow students to track their fitness levels.

Projectors that are in every classroom are also purchased because of the technology levy, including replacement bulbs.

“It all doesn’t last forever, it all has a lifespan and so trying to estimate what that lifespan is and then being able to be sustainable,” Wakeley said.

Along with the necessities in technology, Wakeley said the district is also looking into new pieces of technology that could be used in the classroom setting. For example, she talked about possibly using virtual reality goggles that could take kids to places they may not physically be able to go to, but would benefit from learning about.

Like, diving into the ocean to learn about coral reefs in a more up close experience, she explained.

“We wouldn’t invest a lot in that, but there are some things that (have) specialized purposes that you’d want,” Wakeley said.

To make sure the committee does not lose sight of their goals, Wakeley said the group came up with beliefs, which include empowered learning, future ready skills, future ready planning, access and equality, and sustainability.

She said these beliefs are there to guide the technology plan and eventually the spending plan, which will be put in front of the community for investment.

Once the committee’s tentative plan is finished, Wakeley said there will be a subsequent committee that will work on operationalizing the plan and coming up with a more finalized four-year plan, which is due to the school board in June.

That will determine the dollar figure that will go out to the community.

The school board has not made any finalized decisions about whether or not it will run a technology levy, but if it does run, Wakeley said it will most likely run in November 2019 or February 2020.

“I think that with the work of our committee and our group, they are going to be able to put together a pretty compelling story and narrative for the investment that I absolutely hope is going to make sense to our community and I think that our parents and our students definitely want to have kind of a role cross educational experience here in Tahoma and I think they’ll see the need and will invest in that,” Wakeley said. “We’re trying to be conscious about what’s essential. The investment will pay off. It certainly has in the past. We’ve got a long history of trying to be fiscally responsible with the investment the community has made.”

Contact reporter Kayse Angel at kangel@maplevalleyreporter.com or by phone at 425-358-3259.

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