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Emergency levy money to be used for testing equipment

When the first enrollment numbers for School District 25 came in, the school board knew they had to take action. In September, they approved a property tax emergency levy for $441,000.

Now, Superintendent Mary Vagner says she’s glad they did, because they would not be able to have students take Common Core tests without this money.

“We’ll be using about $265,000 of that $441,000 just to deal with the technology needs to accommodate the testing,” Vagner said.

All three high schools need two portable labs for each school. Those labs are for students with laptops, iPads or other portable devices to study. Additionally, Highland High School needs a hardwired lab, where new school computers will be used to take the SBAC, or Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests.

All four middle schools are in need of one portable lab each, and Irving Middle School needs an additional hardwired lab for testing.

“We’re short that many computers to be able to accommodate testing all of the high school students in freshmen, sophomore and junior years,” said Vagner.

Each school increased in enrollment this school year. Pocatello High School has about 1,050 students, Century High School has about 1,150 students and Highland sits at 1,450 students. Of those Highland students, 1,100 of them need to take the standardized tests within a seven-week period.

Vagner says scheduling the ninth, 10th and 11th graders of all high schools will certainly be difficult, but it will be easier with these new labs.

“It’s pretty significant scheduling ISAT (Idaho Standards Achievement Test) testing or SBAC testing,” she said. “That has to be juggled amongst all the other things going on in our schools.”

Vagner also addressed concerns about spending. She said just this year their school’s budget has been cut by $15 million, and the $441,000 levy only makes up about 3 percent of that loss.

The School District 25 School Board will meet Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the district’s offices, located at 3115 Pole Line Road.

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