Northwest NEWS

May 10, 1999


Initial cost of Technology Proposition is just the tip of the fiscal iceberg

   The Riverview School District is currently beseeching voters to adopt an enticing Trojan horse: its $3.9 million, 6-year technology levy, designed to purchase 1,422 computers over a six-year period. This sizeable purchase promises one computer for every two students, a favorable ratio other local districts have not attained.

   Like other famous Trojan horses in the past, this one comes with unseen perils.

   As noted in the March 23 school board meeting, if this levy passes, the district will find itself saddled with an expensive collection of ongoing maintenance, technical support, and supply costs. Many surveys inform us the initial purchase cost of school computers is just the tip of the fiscal iceberg.

   The actual cost impact of each computer must consider all future support costs for the equipment. With 1,422 new computers in place, this will burden Riverview with ongoing support costs.

   Various surveys have shown that only 37% of the average school's technology expenditures go to computer hardware. Support costs, including technical staff to maintain the equipment and train the teachers, provision for online services, and expensive supplies account for all the rest.

   Riverview School District, always strapped for funds, has no business asking voters to purchase computer hardware for which there will be no possibility of maintaining, given the district's current funding sources.

   The school board president, at the March 23 meeting, called the proposed computer purchase "an ongoing expense" and said, "This won't be the only levy."

   It would be an expensive mistake for Riverview's taxpayers to buy new technology with no adequate funding for its support. We have all been down this road before.

   The district is attempting to bite off more than it can chew. Cut the total of new computers to a third or a half of the proposed number, and then we'll have a technology package Riverview can afford.

   Please use your mail-in ballot to vote No on Proposition I.

Alice Yarborough, Carnation