Thursday, November 4, 2010

Expressing concern for the bond . . .

I had the opportunity today to hear from two staff members committed to our school system and concerned for it's future.  The concern is the need for increased capacity and the lack of urgency they are feeling in the community.  There are many indicators of this as we make presentations and begin discussions with staff, parents, and community members.  They asked me many questions and wonder what we can do to share our story in ways that provide voters with the information that they need to make this critical decision.

The Board will be making decisions on Tuesday including scope of the projects and timing of the vote.  As with all of these measures, as a school system we are limited in what we can do.  We can't "market" the measure or influence people to vote yes.  We can, however, create one fact sheet that can be used multiple times and distributed in a variety of forms.  Other than scope and cost, what information must we include in this fact sheet? 

  • What do those that are not connected to the school system want and need to know?
  • What do parents parents want and need to know?
  • If the bond measure were to fail, what happens and how much of this information needs to be included in the fact sheet?
  • How can I do more than just share factual information?
  • Given the lack of urgency in the community, is February the best election date?
Perhaps one of the most disturbing findings is the recent discovery that of the approximately 9000 parents in our school system about 6000 are registered voters and of this 6000, only about 2500 voted in last year's levy election.  Why don't more registered parents vote?  Why are there so many parents not registered?  How can we influence more parents to register and vote?  As we begin this process, there are many more questions that must be answered.  Some will be answered by the school system and others will be answered by people that make up the Voice of Tahoma Education, the VOTE Committee.

If you feel the need to be an active participant in this process, the VOTE Committee is the appropriate venue for participation.  They need help with new ideas and people to do the work.  There is room for all of us.  They can be contacted on their web page found here

I wasn't able to create a comfort level today in my conversation with the two colleagues who care a great deal about this school system.  They are frustrated, concerned, and want to see more action.  As the board enters the week for making the critical bond decisions, the time for action is here.  The fact sheet will follow the decisions and the community information sharing will increase and become more visible.


Stacy said...

They need to know what will happen if it fails, truly. After seeing the results of the last election it was clear, no one wants more taxes. I am worried too about the levy seeing what has transpired. Parents need to see working time line, how long the projects will take to build, when can they see results, and yes, what will happen. What will be cut, how many kids will be in a room. He as open and honest as possible.

Anonymous said...

My family and I completely agree with Stacy. Not only being a teacher in our learning community, my son will be starting school in two years at one of our elementary school. It frightens me that there is a possibility that there could be an overabundance of students in such an important time in his learning career. Sadly, I have an advantage in making my decision that other families do not have - I see the deficits on a daily basis, I live it.

It's difficult to give voters a clear picture of what we need in one document, but we need this. Voters need to be aware what will happen if this bond does not pass as well as if it does. What are the immediate benefits? How will this affect their learners? Their neighbors? Their taxes, yes their taxes. Sadly with this economy, this will be a factor for taxpayers. What should they expect?

My vote is already decided. Many of my neighbors understand the necessity of passing this bond. I, too, am wondering how to get the rest of the community on board.