Classroom needs, security and communication all included

LYNDEN — In addition to a replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy, the Lynden School District will also put a Technology and Facility Levy on the February 2020 ballot. 

The technology levy is a new request and specifically for projects that exceed the general fund, but are essential to student learning, Superintendent Jim Frey said.

The levy will cover technology, facility maintenance and safety, mostly consisting of larger projects that don’t fit well into the district’s general budget because of their cost. 

“Significant projects in school safety we’ve been able to make headway on in our general fund budget, but in order to complete those we need additional funds. Otherwise they get put on hold,” Frey told the Tribune back in September. 

Technology upgrades in the school district would include Tier 1 classroom tools that “provide an equitable technology-equipped learning environment in all classrooms for all students.”

“In our two new schools  [Lynden Middle and Fisher Elementary] we have what we call a Tier 1 classroom and that includes interactive panel, document camera and a couple other things there,” Frey said.” “Knowing that we want all kids to experience that same or equitable classroom environment — those are things we’re not going to get to without that and we feel it’s important to provide some equity across the district.”

The district aims for technology upgrades that can be on a reasonable cycle of replacing student and staff devices every four or five years. 

Training for teachers and staff to integrate technology into lessons is part of the district’s plans for the funding it would receive if the levy is approved. 

Also included are general upgrades to security and the network infrastructure in the school district. This involves upgrading the overall network system of wiring, servers and switches in order to protect student information and prevent cyber attacks of district data. 

Facilities in the district would also get fixed. Some of these upgrades include replacing and repairing aging roofs, building envelopes and obsolete systems throughout the district. 

Other areas are parking lot maintenance and lighting, and HVAC and mechanical systems. 

New cameras, phones and alarm systems would be integrated as well with improvements to overall school security and communication systems.

Frey said the district knew it wouldn’t be able to accomplish everything it wanted to, but has had some things it’s wanted to complete for some time. 

“There have been things that have been on our list for awhile to get to and try to put into the regular operating budget, but we’ve been unable to accomplish some of the big things that are there and the most impactful,” Frey said. “We looked through what the priorities were knowing we wouldn’t be able to do all of them and then coming up with those things we think are most important.”