Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1097144

Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 21, 2014

School finances improve

By Xiomara Levsen | Dec 31, 2013
The 1:1 computer program entered its second year at Washington High School. High school students were issued their own MacBook computer during the school year.

The Washington Community School District (WCSD) dropped the tax levy, replaced the boiler at the high school, and began the second year of the facility maintenance plan, said WCSD superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen.
However, this year marked a first for Jorgensen.
“Well, it was the first year since I’ve been here we haven’t had a major construction project going on,” Jorgensen said, “so that was kind of nice.”
One plan Jorgensen is happy the district implemented was the facility maintenance plan. When he first started there wasn’t one in place.
This has helped the district improve areas that needed attention, including the boiler at the high school, which was replaced this year, Jorgensen said.
“At this point in time all of the HVAC systems in the district are all fairly new, so that should not be a concern for a period of time, which is good,” he said.
The finances are continuing to improve and are becoming more sustainable, Jorgensen said. One example Jorgensen gave was the tax levy. This is the fourth straight year it has dropped.
“Over a four-year period of time we were able to drop that $2.80, and right now we’re actually at the state average,” Jorgensen said.
When Jorgensen first came to Washington the tax levy was $17.44. Now, it is at $14.64.
A continuing goal of the district from 2013 that will carry over into 2014 is expanding the 1:1 program.
“I think one of the successful things we’ve done the last two years is the 1:1 at the high school,” he said, “and so one of the goals I have is to get something similar in place at the middle school. We’re looking at Google Chromebook at the middle school, and I think the program we’re looking at is it wouldn’t actually be a device the kids take home. They would just be devices the kids have at the school.”
Also, another development is the possibility of having a bond vote in 2014. The high school auditorium committee has raised over half of the amount needed for the auditorium but still needs help with some of the funding through a bond vote.
“From what I understand it would be something in the million-dollar range, which would be very minor in terms of tax impact,” he said. “So we could potentially have another construction in place here as early as the summer or something, but that would be very positive.”
There are areas the district still needs to improve on next year that he would like continue to work on, Jorgensen said.
“We’ve made some significant strides in regards to our image and public relations, that’s an ongoing thing,” he said. “It has helped in terms of some of our open enrollment numbers, but I would still like to see improvement there. We’ve closed the gap with what’s out [open enrollment out of the district] and what’s in [open enrollment into the district] but I would still like to see improvement there.”
When he first came to WCSD, the gap was a lot bigger, but numbers still aren’t where he would like them to be.

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