Arcola School District Continues Investing in their Vision for Learning
It seems like just yesterday that the amazing community of Arcola came together to raise $750,000 for the school district to move to a 1:1 Digital Learning Platform. The first year of use was the 2014-2015 school year. The district then upgraded the student technology in the 2018-2019 school year. The students in grades K-6 received an iPad 6 device and the students in grade 7-12 were upgraded a 10.5” iPad Pro Device that also included an iPad Pencil along with a Logitech Slim Case and Keyboard combination.
Since that implementation, the school district has realized many positive outcomes as a result of this new technology including:
- Improved student engagement
- Preparation of our students for digital literacy
- Shift in learning activities to be more relevant to the real world
- Improved communication between teachers and students
- Increased student achievement
- Preparation of our students for college and career readiness
The district’s goal has been to provide the students with the most current, up-to-date technology in order to move forward with the district vision, which is “to be an innovative leader in providing educational experiences that create an individualized plan for each and every student.”
How the District Funded the Upgrade
The 2018-2019 technology upgrade took long-term planning on behalf of the administration and school board. As a matter of fact, the school district began planning for the upgrade one year after the original technology was used by students. In the fall of 2015, the school board issued $500,000 in working cash bonds, which resulted in NO additional cost to district taxpayers. The district was able to do this because it used around $110,000 from the 1% Facilities Tax it receives annually to pay off a portion of the annual bond and interest payment (from the new high school addition). This then allowed the district to levy for the working cash bonds with absolutely no increase in property taxes because it lowered the bond and interest levy by the same amount. At the time, this was a very innovative financial approach to being able to sustain the district and community commitment to providing our students with 21st century learning tools in the classroom.
Looking Ahead to the Next Upgrade
We are again one year into the use of the new technology and it is again time for the district to start planning for the next round of upgrades, which is projected to be in the 2022-2023 school year. In November of 2020, the district will make its final payment for both the working cash bonds (that were used for the last technology refresh) and the building bonds (from the 2001 building addition). One strategy the school board may consider for the 2022-2023 technology refresh would be to sell working cash bonds in the amount of $750,000 in January of 2021. This would lead to an annual payment of around $150,000 (beginning in November of 2021 in the 21-22 school year) each year for 5 years. This $150,000 is right around the exact amount that is being levied this year for payment of bonds. That means that this would allow the district to refresh technology again in 2022-2023 for use through the 2025-2026 school year WITHOUT increasing property taxes and without negatively affected the regular school district budget.