On the heels of approving a new technology plan, board discusses tech financing options

Before the winter break, the IUSD Board of Education approved a three-year Technology Master Plan outlining long-term strategies for using high-tech tools to improve outcomes for students.

This week, the district’s technology chief and a consultant delivered a follow-up presentation to the board, exploring options for funding those ambitions with a technology bond.

IUSD’s new tech plan, which can be accessed here, shows how technology can be used to further instructional objectives, connecting specific curricular goals with measurable benchmarks. But it also acknowledges the stark reality that the district’s aging technology infrastructure is insufficient for 21st century teaching and learning.

Chief Technology Officer Brianne Ford told board members on Tuesday that IUSD currently spends about $5 million a year on technology, or roughly $165 per student. That leaves about $10 million to $12 million a year in unfunded needs.

“We have limited access to technology devices and wireless throughout the campuses,” she said, “and we’re heavily reliant on donations and one-time money to close the gaps periodically.”

Fully implementing the Technology Master Plan would cost an estimated $168.8 million over 10 years, or $257.3 million over 15 years, according to Ford. But IUSD’s current technology spending would only cover $62.7 million over 10 years and $96.6 million over 15 years, assuming a 1 percent annual increase in spending.

A technology bond could fill a significant portion of the gap.

Adam Bauer, principal with Fieldman, Rolapp & Associates, told the board that a 10-year bond at a tax rate of $19 per $100,000 of assessed value would net about $62 million for technology, while a 15-year bond at the same rate would bring in about $106 million. A bond at $24 per $100,000 of assessed value would generate about $79 million over 10 years, or $135 million over 15 years, Bauer said. And a bond with a tax rate of $29 per $100,000 of assessed value would generate $96 million over 10 years, or $164 million over 15 years.

Board members will ultimately decide whether to bring a technology bond before voters and under what terms. Passage would require at least 55 percent under Proposition 39, which limits the use of bond proceeds and requires a citizens’ oversight committee.

If you’d like to check out a PDF of the slide presentation, you can do so by clicking here. For more information on IUSD’s technology initiative, visit www.irvineforward.org.

Also Tuesday night:

  • Irvine Public Schools Foundation CEO Neda Eaton announced that IPSF raised $1.1 million during its Annual Campaign, which concluded on Dec. 31. That total will be matched by the City of Irvine, and because the foundation can include some funds that were not matched in the prior year, it is eligible to receive the entire $1.3 million pledged by the City for classroom support. Eaton thanked those who helped make the campaign a success, including the City, IUSD, the PTAs, the foundation’s corporate partners and the many parents and individuals who donated.
  • The Board of Education voted to name an elementary campus planned for the Portola Springs area. The school now officially known as Portola Springs Elementary will open at an interim site in the fall before moving to its permanent home for 2015-16.
  • Meeting a requirement of the state Education Code, board members voted to receive and file a financial audit of IUSD for the 2012-13 fiscal year. The audit was conducted by the independent firm Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co.