Adding new programs and school facilities can be a very exciting time for school districts. However, boards of directors and district leadership can become so enthusiastic about the future that they forget to plan for the present.
You must take the time to follow the correct order and process to ensure the success of an upcoming bond or levy measure so you can add the curriculum and buildings your district needs.
Communicate the “Need” not the “Solution.”
When you reach out to your community, the key message is the district’s need, not the solution.
When you initially reach out to your community, present the problem. Are your schools overcrowded? Is your classroom technology outdated? Would new programs help your students learn the skills they need to be effective in the future workforce?
Talk about the issues facing your district and the needs those issues create. To use an old adage: don’t put the cart before the horse. Your community won’t support the construction of new facilities if they don’t know why you need them.
Also, don’t assume your community is aware of the problems your district faces. The board of directors, district leadership, and school employees know the district’s problems because they live with them every day. Your community doesn’t.
You need to communicate your needs to your community. You need to communicate your district’s problems often enough that your constituents become well-versed in what obstacles their schools need to overcome.
Involve Your Community in the Planning.
The most common pitfall for school districts seeking additional tax revenue from their constituents is that they typically present the solution first. Showing your community sketches of the district’s new school or full curriculum of new program offerings sounds like a good idea as it saves your constituents’ time. However, this approach often fails.
Your community wants to be involved with planning the solution. By involving your community with the planning process, you get their buy-in immediately. They become part of the team. They become as excited as you are about adding the facilities and programs the district needs.
By doing this, your community will vote “yes” on your measure right away when they receive their ballots because they already know this is the right decision for the district because they were involved.
Timing is Everything.
The board of directors, staff, and students may be excited to get started on the district’s future, however you need to make sure to give yourself enough time to get your community involved and on-board. The more time you give yourself to properly execute your information campaign, the more likely your measure will be a success.
Statistics show that school districts are more likely to succeed if they run measures in February’s Special Elections. However, if February is just a few months away, your district should plan for a year from the soonest February, at minimum. The more time you give yourself, the better. A good rule of thumb is that you should give your team a minimum of 12-18 months prior to your preferred election date.
Start planning early and well before communicating the needed tax dollars to support your bonds and levy campaigns to your community. Expecting communities to support millions of dollars for capital projects in your school district without giving them the needed information well before you ask for their money is simply not realistic.
Reach Out to Your Community.
Although successful measures are exciting, those results come from engaging your community at all times and well in advance of any plans to add new facilities or modify your district’s educational offerings. edTactics’ clients succeed because they understand the importance and value of implementing our strategies.
You can distill our strategies down to one primary goal: working with communities and constituents to develop a vision for how they want to see your school district in the future including buildings, course offerings, school organization, and much more.
Throughout the planning process, hold community open houses and invite your community to attend. Create a dedicated website with clear, transparent information about upcoming projects. Hold face-to-face interviews with key stakeholders. Implement two-way communication using social networking and other forms of reaching out.
Listen to what your community has to say and involve them in creating the solution. They will buy in and vote “yes” because they’re part of the team and don’t feel like they’re the adversary to the district.
Who has the Time?
Preparing and running a campaign includes a multitude of overwhelming tasks. Typically, superintendents are called upon to plan and implement every aspect of bond proposals. However, superintendents’ responsibilities are to manage the daily operations of a school district and lead an educational system, not to deal with the myriad of tasks involved in planning and executing bond measures.
With the amount of work and planning required to pass a bond or levy, your organization likely doesn’t have the manpower to effectively accomplish your goals. Get help! Bring on a dedicated team with the experience and expertise to manage your project as early as possible in the process – preferably immediately after a problem is identified.
Contact edTactics for a free consultation to establish your district’s needs for a successful measure. edTactics helps school districts implement and execute community-based Program and Facility Advisory Teams using our proven Continuous Improvement Model for Community Outreach, and edTactics has a perfect record.
That’s right. Every school district who used edTactics to plan and implement their community outreach strategies passed their bond or levy measures.
edTactics can help you plan and execute your campaign so you can achieve success the first time, every time.
Feel free to give us a call at (360) 566-7616 to discuss the services you’re seeking with one of our free consultations! If you prefer, you can also reach out to us via email.
edTactics will provide you with our professional experience and expertise so your organization can achieve the success it deserves.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Art Edgerly & Eric Jacobson
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