Another Richfield Schools referendum brewing for next fall

The Richfield School District is preparing for another referendum item next fall. After voters approved increasing the district’s operating levy by $66 per pupil in November, the district will attempt next November to renew another funding source — it’s technology levy, which supports the cost of machines, infrastructure and associated personnel.

After 10 years, the district’s technology levy, which generates $1.3 million this year, is set to expire next year unless voters approve a renewal and possible increase.  The district is working on a parent survey to explore how receptive district property owners will be to any bump, Superintendent Robert Slotterback told the Richfield School Board Monday, Dec. 17. The survey is scheduled to be up for board approval next month.

Slotterback suggested a need for a levy increase. “In reality the dollars have been tighter and tighter every year,” Slotterback said.

One source of frustration, Slotterback said, has been the district’s computer resources.  Computer labs are often occupied by students taking state-required web-based testing, and are often not available for instructional purposes, he mentioned.

“That is another one of these unfunded mandates,” Slotterback said, explaining that the district gets no additional support to address computer availability.

“We’ve spent literally tens of thousands of dollars to put those in, but actual use of them is limited due to testing.”

The school board also discussed a possible future that emphasizes the use of personal electronic devices such as smart phones and tablets for instruction, a trend in some other metro districts.

The district does not currently have the physical resources to promote the use of such devices, Slotterback said.

“We’re going to need more money to make all of that system work,” he said. “We don’t have the infrastructure right now to support that.”

As a standard, the district may want to explore pursuing the capability of allowing students to access a building’s network with two different devices apiece, Slotterback noted.

TIES, an education technology collaborative, will look at the district’s technological needs and resources as it studies the district in a technology audit that will coincide with the surveys.