Human bonds key at Bonds, Ballots and Buildings Conference
Monday, April 11, 2022
OSBA Board President Scott Rogers said it was good to meet with people from around the state Friday at OSBA’s Bonds, Ballots and Buildings Conference in Salem. “The need for facilities hasn’t gone way during COVID,” he said. (Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)
Handshakes and cheery greetings were plentiful Friday (with an occasional hug) as the Bonds, Ballots and Buildings Conference marked OSBA’s return to large in-person gatherings. Attendees said it felt good to engage personally rather than talk to rows of faces on a screen.
Ilean Clute, Forest Grove business manager, said she would have wanted to come just to see colleagues even if her district wasn’t planning to seek a bond.
The Salem Convention Center conference offered a wealth of information and contacts for school districts and community colleges, with many attendees in the planning stages for starting a bond campaign.
“There are a lot of details; you are going to need professional help,” Baker School District Superintendent Mark Witty told attendees.
More than 125 people registered, getting guidance from dozens of presenters and exhibitors with expertise in construction, finance, communications, the law and more.
Witty was part of the conference’s opening session, the “Learn From the Winners Panel.” Last year, Baker passed its first bond since 1948. Witty advised the audience to get to know their voters, and he emphasized communications to build support.
Witty was joined on the panel by Redmond Superintendent Charan Cline, who spoke about the challenges of passing a tax with a conservative and rural community. He said that trying to sell a package of what the district needs usually fails. Instead, the district needs to focus on packaging what the community wants, he said.
As a new top administrator, Central Linn Superintendent Candace Pelt is getting her first up-close look at a bond effort. Her district expects to put one together in the next few years. She said she relates to the panel’s struggles because her district lost two bond campaigns in the past 10 years.
Pelt attended the conference with her board chair and business manager and said they were getting useful tips and information.
Rogue River School Board member Jay Chick said he was excited about the “wealth of knowledge to pull from.” He is new to the board and is trying to get up to speed as the district prepares to seek a bond.
OSBA Board President Scott Rogers, the Athena-Weston board chair, told attendees in opening remarks to give themselves plenty of time and don’t be intimidated by the process.
Clute said she loved listening to other districts’ success stories, especially the ones who learned from their failures to come back stronger. She said it was also a good reminder of a bond’s focus.
“It’s not really about us; it’s about our community,” said Clute.