Sevier School District officials have found enough money to get state matching funds for computer technology labs in spite of voters turning down a leeway tax increase twice at the polls.
Some $140,000 will be taken from an undistributed reserve "rainy day" fund to at least get the program started, although it will be scaled down from original plans.District officials wanted leeway financing to take advantage of four years of state funding that was approved for all districts in the state by the 1990 Legislature. The matching formula for the state technology grant is about $3 in state money for each $1 in district funding. Where the district might get the funding to take advantage of state money for four years wasn't announced.
Original plans called for 32-station computer labs in elementary schools in Richfield, Salina, and Monroe and an eight-station lab in Koosharem. Advanced learning systems would also have been bought for middle schools and high schools, also with laser disc resource libraries.
Now, software and support will be purchased from Utah County-based WICAT Education Systems for five computer labs in elementary schools at a cost of $173,922. IBM hardware will be bought from a local contractor, costing $125,400.
WICAT will upgrade existing eight-station lab to the Koosharem Elementary. The lab at Monroe Elementary will be increased to 40 stations.
District officials said secondary students won't get much help from the program now approved.
Prior to adoption of the new computer technology plan, board member Carl Albrecht noted that the leeway tax vote was so close that board members should approve it. He said the program should be launched on a small percentage basis at the beginning, adding "I think we owe it to the children, the 49 percent of the people who voted for it in the election, and ourselves as a school board." The school board asked voters to approve the leeway tax at the September primary election. After it was defeated, they decided to put it on the ballot a second time, concluding many residents didn't understand the proposal the first time around. It was defeated by 100 votes at the general election in November.
Board member Jerold Johnson commented that the board had supported the leeway tax and the computer technology program so "we need to take the lead and support technology as far as the public will let us."
The board also approved opening the Cedar Ridge School a half day on Saturdays, allowing the general public to use the bank of computers at that location. With community support, computer labs would also be opened to the public in Monroe and Salina.
The school was established to aid underachievers as well as those who want to advance at a faster pace than the average student. The portable building is filled to capacity and district officials are looking at an edition.