School districts throughout the United States depend on their communities to fund new facility construction and pay for services not covered by state and federal taxes. In order to make up the difference, districts must run bonds for new buildings and levies to supply the funds needed between what the district receives and what the district actually needs.
The traditional approach doesn’t work.
Traditionally, a superintendent meets with the board of directors to discuss the district’s needs and plans for the future. Once the team decides on a course of action, they prepare a list of services or buildings, often with renderings prepared by an outside architect, and then release the package to the community. Districts often hold forums and community outreach to ask their constituents what they think of the proposed plans. Frequently, the first time voters see the proposed buildings or service needs is on the ballot.
Seems simple, right? Wrong.
Taking the traditional approach in communities that aren’t overwhelming supporters of their schools will result in failed campaigns, leading the district team to believe that their proposed plan was wrong, that the community didn’t understand the needs, or that the community doesn’t want to pay higher taxes.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Community outreach comes first.
A district needs to regularly communicate with its community even when bonds and levies aren’t at stake. This outreach becomes the absolute top priority when it comes to asking for money. However, community outreach must come first before any plan is proposed to the community.
By involving the community in the planning stages of upcoming projects whether those are buildings or new services, the community will help develop a plan they agree with – even if the plan is exactly what the superintendent and board of directors would have developed without community involvement.
Why does this make a difference?
If districts involve the community at the beginning and throughout the entire process, the constituents will feel like they’re part of the team to make their schools better. The community will also have more “buy-in,” having confidence that the plan is truly something the district needs, not just random requests proposed by leaders who simply want more tax revenue from their supporters. In addition, a supportive community will encourage and educate their neighbors, family members, and friends about the importance of the upcoming vote leading to even more “yes” votes.
edTactics can help.
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 help create their plans with effective community outreach passed their bond or levy measure.
edTactics specializes in comprehensive Continuous Improvement for every aspect of school districts including Community Outreach, Facility Planning, Leadership Coaching, and Strategic Communications.
We would love to hear from you about your district’s needs and help you guide your schools to success! 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.
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Art Edgerly & Eric Jacobson
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