Bonds conference offers tools and tips to win over voters
Monday, February 12, 2018
The Estacada School District attended OSBA’s Bonds, Ballots and Buildings Conference on Friday in force, including six out of seven school board members.
“We want to put together a winning campaign,” said Estacada School Board Chair Ben Wheeler.
More than 200 people registered to attend the sold-out conference, held at the Salem Convention Center. Groups large and small from all over Oregon learned in a dozen workshops about topics ranging from bond basics to school architectural trends to election law.
The Elkton School District passed its last bond in 2009 by just seven votes, according to Business Manager Edwina Miller. She remembers that campaign but didn’t work on it. She attended the conference to gather tips for an upcoming campaign.
“It’s nice to find different ways to reach the voters,” she said.
The conference opened with remarks from OSBA Board President LeeAnn Larsen. She shared her experiences working on a $680 million bond campaign for Beaverton, where she is a school board member.
“I knew we were in for a lot of work to gain the community’s support, but I didn’t realize all that we would need to go through,” she said.
The morning also featured a panel from four school districts that had recently won bond campaigns. They shared some of the lessons they learned.
St. Helens School District Superintendent Scot Stockwell told the packed room to never refer to work on schools as remodeling. In his community, many of the voters have remodeling projects they want to do but are putting off because they just don’t have the money. Instead, he said, always call them upgrades because it is about making the schools better for the students.
Jefferson School District Superintendent Kent Klewitz emphasized always keeping the focus on students.
“The kids in our classrooms are the best argument,” he said.
Oregon City School Board Member Evon Tekorius was attending the conference for the first time, and she said she appreciated the clear and precise advice from the panel. She said the advice would help her district focus its bond campaign planning.
“We want to make sure we do it once and we get it right,” she said.
Baker School District sent a delegation 10-strong, with a mixture of first-timers and those who had attended OSBA’s bonds conference before.
“This is a really strong workshop lineup,” said Baker Superintendent Mark Witty. “There’s so much to learn about bonds you could go 10 times.”