School Bond Elections In Iowa: An Analysis of Factors, Strategies, and Policies that Influence Outcomes
Brummer, Kevin C.
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The Problem: The problem of this study was to identify and analyze: (a) selected social, political, and economic factors, (b) successful strategies used in school bond elections, and (c) influential policies related to school bond elections. Procedures: Questions were developed, and interviews were conducted with a school board member, the superintendent, and the citizens' committee chairperson in four school districts chosen on the basis of the cost of the bond issue per student and the percentage the bond issue represented of the assessed valuation of the district, along with consultants from the lowa Department of Education and the lowa Association of School Boards. Findings: Aging buildings and the inability to present the educational program were the major reasons for bond issues. Listening to the voters, the campaign committee, the level of community involvement, and a unified school board were crucial to passing the bond issue. The most successful strategy was communicating with the public in as many ways as possible. Laws impacting bond issues were property tax funding for bond issues, the campaign ethics laws, and two ballot questions for exceeding a tax rate of $2.70. Conclusions: Ten conclusions were drawn, including: the importance of listening, the need for vigorous leadership, and the necessity for well-coordinated plans. Recommendations: Legislators could consider changing the method of funding bond issues and changing the laws requiring two ballot questions when the proposed tax levy exceeded $2.70. Additional research could be done to study strategies in school districts of other sizes, school districts that have failed to pass bond issues, school districts in growth patterns, school districts that passed a bond issue on the first attempt, and states with the simple majority vote required for passage.
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