Board considers three levy options

The Mercer Island School District is considering its options for possible upcoming levies, including a maintenance and operations (M&O), transportation levy and a possible technology levy.

The district’s four-year M&O levy will end in 2010. The district is considering asking voters to approve another in February for the years 2011-2014. The district and School Board are also thinking about adding a transportation levy to the ballot, which would help fund buses and other transportation costs. Finally, MISD is also contemplating adding a third item to the ballot: a technology levy. Currently, funding from voters that goes toward technology in the district is a part of the district’s capital projects levy, which funds everything from the maintenance of buildings to refurbishing school boilers.

According to Jennifer Wright, the executive director of learning and technology services at the district, a four-year technology levy, outside of capital projects, would help free up money in the capital projects fund, which could then be used for other much needed projects around the district. According to the district, a technology levy could make up to $4 million available in the capital projects fund. It could also free up to $50,000 from the district’s general fund.

If the district decides to pursue the technology levy idea and voters approve it, the money would help fund technology staff salaries, pay for professional development, upgrade equipment, and install a new telephone system, among other things. The levy could bring up to $10 million to the district for technology purposes through 2014.

Dean Mack, the executive director of business services for the district, said the King County assessor is estimating a 15 percent drop in assessed values on Mercer Island for 2010. The district has also built in an additional 5 percent, equaling roughly $2 million, in case the state Legislature lifts the levy lid at some future point.

Board member Pat Braman asked Mack and Wright to look into how other districts have approached having three separate items on the ballot and what the success rates are.

The board will hear more about levy possibilities during upcoming meetings. The next School Board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 8, beginning at 7 p.m.

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