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District promoting Feb. 3 facilities and technology levy

The Enumclaw community has had a chance to learn and ask questions about the Enumclaw School District’s $8.4 million capital facilities and technology levy that will be on the Feb. 3 ballot. Now, it’s Black Diamond parents’ and residents’ turn.

The 4RKids Levy Committee will host a forum at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Black Diamond Community Center. The meeting is the last in a series of three the levy committee has planned. Enumclaw community members had their opportunities Thursday and Tuesday.

According to 4RKids Committee Chair Kathleen Michael, the levy committee is trying to get as much information into the hands of the public as possible as the Feb. 3 date draws near. Unlike past elections, King County has moved to a mail-in only format. The Feb. 3 election will be King County’s first vote-by-mail attempt.

Absentee ballots for the election were scheduled to hit mailboxes today, Wednesday, and Thursday. They are due back to the county before Feb. 3.

There is one ballot drop box in the area at the Black Diamond Library, 24707 Roberts Dr. According to Megan Coopersmith with King County Elections, Enumclaw will not have its own drop box for this election.

The district needs a simple majority (50 percent plus one) to pass the levy.

At the Enumclaw meeting, Superintendent Mike Nelson said in recent district surveys putting technology in the hands of students and teachers was one of the top requests of the district. He said district leaders and the board put a lot of time, about 18 months, and effort into the decision to put a levy before voters.

Enumclaw leaders visited other districts that run regular technology levies and have successful programs that utilize technology and eventually put together a list of items that will benefit the Enumclaw district. They’ve dubbed this collection the “intelligent classroom.”

During this month’s “Superintendent’s Report” on Enumclaw TV, Nelson will demonstrate some of the equipment and talk about the levy. Viewers outside the city of Enumclaw can stream the video from the city’s Web site, www.ci.enumclaw.wa.us.

“I think you will see our learning change with how we use technology,” Nelson said. “It’s exciting to see where we might end up.”

Technology is only half the levy, as a portion of taxpayer money would be used to put a new roof on Enumclaw Middle School and update heating systems at EMS, the high school and Westwood Elementary School.

If approved, the district will not begin collecting money for the four-year levy until 2010. Collection will be front-loaded to cover the more expensive construction projects right away, so the first year would generate $2.9 million at 87 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. That means the owner of a $300,000 home would pay $261 a year. By 2013, that number would be $1.2 million at a rate of 33 cents per $1,000, or $99 for the owner of a $300,000 home.

The district has set up a link through its Web site, www.enumclaw.wednet.edu, that answers questions about the upcoming levy. The page will also include a blog for comments and discussion.

Reach Brenda Sexton at bsexton@courierherald.com or 360-802-8206.

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