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Davis schools to get technology funds

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Davis schools will start booting up a Technology Advancement Plan over the next year under a $304.8 million budget approved Tuesday by the Davis Board of Education.

The 1998-99 budget, about $14 million less than the current year, takes effect July 1. Seventy percent of the budget funds instruction.The budget also includes a tax hike under an increased voted leeway tax that voters approved in May 1997.

The leeway increase will be implemented over three years. In the fall, owners of a $100,000 house will pay about $11 in additional property tax, said district business administrator Bruce Williams.

The precise tax amount, however, cannot be known until the county releases the certified tax rate next month. But the district projects a 4 percent growth from the 1997-98 valuation, which was $6.1 billion, Williams said.

Last year's leeway funds totaled $6.2 million.

Some of the extra $2 million coming from the leeway hike will fund the Technology Advancement Plan, which aims to train teachers to use technology in instruction, meet support demands and allow schools to begin or continue projects.

The leeway will funds 27 school technology specialists and a central technical support desk. Bond money totaling $3 million will fund school computer upgrades.

"We're very excited by this response to have technology specialists in schools," said school board president Barbara Smith.

Also budgeted is $500,000 for additional preparation time for elementary school teachers and an extra $500,000 for middle-school class size reduction, added to the $1.1 million in state funds. That will bring 30 more core-subject teachers to an age group described as "terribly at risk" by board vice president Cheryl Phipps.

The board authorized up to $1 million from the current year's budget to go to the undistributed reserve fund, set aside for emergencies and for the betterment of the district's financial health.

The board also authorized the district to buy $15 million in tax anticipation notes. The money will help the district fund schools until tax money flows in late fall and be repaid with budgeted money within the next year.