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Successful $67.5M Bond Proposal Represents a Victory in Community Engagement

November 24, 2015

Bonds proposals are tricky business.

When Saline Area Schools sought community support for our $67.5 million bond measure earlier this year, a few thousand votes stood between needed safety & security improvements, infrastructure updates, and a potentially transformative school reform package.

Our facilities were aging and in need of a serious overhaul. If passed, the sweeping bond measure would give our staff the time—and the resources—to upgrade aging buildings, create safer, more engaging learning environments and significantly limit maintenance and upkeep costs, among other benefits.

A quick tour of the district and the need was glaring. Though it hardly mattered. There was no guarantee the bond would pass. The district had lost two separate bond measures.

This year, everything changed. An improved economy, coupled with a renewed commitment to engaging community members—including parents and other taxpayers—paved the way to a historic victory.

Rather than ask the community to blindly support our latest bond measure, the district engaged the community.  We launched Let’s Talk!, an online communications platform that allows parents and other community members to engage in two-way conversations with district decision makers. The technology, is accessible through a tab on our district website. It demonstrates our commitment to listening and responding to community concerns and provides an always-on platform for addressing misinformation on social media and in the press.

When a group of community members wanted to know what kinds of school busses the district intended to purchase with taxpayer dollars, we were able to answer them—fast. Let’s Talk! existence helped allay stakeholders’ concerns, and demonstrated our commitment to transparency with voters. The result: more support, and deeper understanding of the issues, come decision time.

Collectively, our community understood that the bond was critical to the district’s long-term plans. When the bond passed, the change in sentiment was palpable. Our staff felt supported by our community. Our community, in turn, felt empowered by our staff. Trust in our school system was restored.

Now, as we head into the holiday season and the New Year, teachers, staff and community members can move forward together, bonded by a single mission: to improve the school experience for years to come.

I want to personally thank every staff member and community member who contributed to this important victory. Your undying commitment has forever shaped a brighter future for our schools—and, more important, for our students.

Thank you!

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