Property tax ends. How will Scottsdale schools cope?
The Scottsdale Unified School District will have to stretch its technology dollars through 2015-16 because the property tax that pays for that purpose is ending.
For the past seven years, the district has had a capital override, a property tax that generates nearly $10 million a year for items such as furniture, playground equipment, musical instruments and textbooks. About $4.7 million of that is devoted to technology each year.
The money has allowed the district to install Wi-Fi at every campus, upgrade the infrastructure and buy computers.
But that tax is expiring and the district will not receive any more money from it starting in 2015-16.
The district’s maintenance-and-operations override, a property tax that pays for teachers and classroom programs, also is ending next year.
Scottsdale administrators didn’t want to put two overrides on the ballot this fall so only the operations override will go before voters. Voters have rejected the past two override requests, forcing reductions in various areas, most recently in music and art classes starting next year.
But in the meantime, the district has saved $600,000 from this year’s technology allocation to spend next year, in addition to the last year of override funding.
Tom Clark, chief technology officer for the district, said that upgrading the phone system at every campus will be a priority. Only about half of them have modern systems.
“Some of those systems are more than 20 years old and we just about had to resort to eBay for parts,” he said.
When the capital override passed, Scottsdale began adding electronic whiteboards and audiovisual systems to every classroom, and Clark said about 70 percent of those need to be replaced.
This past year, Scottsdale started rolling out a curriculum-based technology initiative that’s free. Google Apps for Education allows the district to have its own domain, where teachers can create and share lesson plans and students can work interactively.
Several schools started using the platform this year, according to Kyle Ross, director of instructional technology.
The district gradually will purchase Chromebooks, with the goal that for the 2015-16 school year, all freshmen have access to a laptop for English class.