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Vancouver Public Schools has been named a Top Digital District for 2016 by the Learning Counsel, a research institute that provides information, training and support for schools on digital content and instruction. The honor recognizes VPS as a leader in creating a positive transformation to digital tools for teaching and learning.
VPS began implementing a districtwide digital one-to-one initiative in 2014, thanks to voter approval of a 2013 technology levy measure. The initiative, weLearn 1:1, aims to provide equity of access to digital devices and resources to provide rich teaching and learning experiences for all students.
This fall, fifth-grade students received iPads, bringing the implementation of weLearn to all students in grades five through 12. Full implementation will provide every student in grades three through 12 with a digital device by the 2017-18 school year. Last year, Vancouver expanded use of the Canvas learning management system to provide students with access to lessons, resources and tools from their devices. Ongoing digital content pilots focus on identifying and using outstanding resources to enhance classroom instruction.
"The Learning Counsel shares valuable research about adopting, implementing and sustaining digital curriculum to increase student learning," said Zach Desjarlais, manager of instructional technology. "This experience has been an affirmation of our work here in Vancouver to provide students with the skills they need for their future."
VPS was one of 10 districts selected from more than 900 entries. The award will be presented Nov. 14-15 at the Learning Counsel's Gathering and National Awards event in Buena Vista, Florida.
Membership in the Learning Counsel includes more than 170,000 superintendents, district leaders, educators, publishers and partners. Their objective is to help educational systems develop sound implementations of digital curriculum strategies in support of personalized learning.
Aging schools, growing elementary enrollment and low interest rates prompt Vancouver Public Schools to plan for future now
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Vancouver Public Schools' board of directors approved a resolution to put a capital facilities bond measure on the ballot Feb. 14, 2017. If approved by voters, the bond would allow the district to build three new schools; replace, remodel and/or enlarge several schools; and provide improvements and updates to all other schools in the district. The board and district leaders hope to be able to take advantage of historically low interest rates to reduce the financial impact on taxpayers.
"Now is the best time to do this work," said Board President Dale Rice. "We have a window of opportunity while interest rates are low. If we defer this investment, our financing and construction costs could double over the next 15 years."
VPS is requesting the authority to sell up to $458 million in bonds to pay for additions and improvements to educational facilities, which were identified as being necessary through a two-year community engagement process. Bond measures require a 60 percent supermajority of 'yes' votes for approval.
The bond measure would:
Rebuild seven aging schools: King, Marshall, Ogden, Truman and Walnut Grove elementary schools; Fir Grove/Vista; and McLoughlin Middle School
Build two new elementary schools to alleviate overcrowding
Construct a larger, permanent school for Vancouver iTech Preparatory
Remodel and enlarge Sacajawea and Franklin elementary schools; Vancouver School of Arts and Academics; and Columbia River High School
Relocate the Lieser Campus to a renovated Marshall Elementary
Enhance safety and security measures at all sites
Accommodate smaller class sizes for kindergarten through third grade and eliminate approximately 60 portable classrooms throughout the district
Upgrade heating and cooling systems and improve energy efficiency
Upgrade roofs, flooring, windows where needed
Add accessible surfaces for playgrounds
Create spaces in schools for family engagement and community use
Restore Kiggins Bowl stadium
If approved, the proposed bond measure is projected to increase the bond tax rate by $.09 per $1,000 of assessed property value for three years. When combined with the existing bonds, the bond rate is projected to be $1.52 per $1,000 of assessed value for tax collection years 2018-2020 and then drop to $1.35 per $1,000 of assessed value starting in 2021.
"For the owner of a $225,290 median-priced home, the proposed change in the bond tax rate is means a temporary three-year increase 9 cents, or approximately $20 per year before the rate decreases by 17 cents," said Superintendent Steve Webb. "This bond measure is about creating equitable learning environments so all VPS students benefit from a 21st century education."
On average, the schools slated for replacement are more than half a century old. They were built without adequate wiring for computers and the Internet, and they lack current safety standards for earthquake and fire. They are less energy-efficient and have more maintenance requirements than newer schools.
The estimated cost of the entire bond program, which includes improvements to every school in the district, is $562.8 million. This total cost is offset by other revenue sources including a $43 million class-size reduction grant from the state, local impact fees estimated at $12 million and state assistance (match) funds estimated at $50 million.
For more information go to http://vansd.org/reschools or call 360-313-1230.