Anticipated 2016 school bond

marches forward

By Sentry Staff

Consultants hired to assess the viability of a school bond mea­sure for 2016, and provide mar­keting ideas to help get it passed, presented their preliminary rec­ommendations to the OUSD board at its Nov. 5 meeting.

CliffordMoss spent the last sev­eral months on a “listening tour,” talking to district teachers, par­ents, school supporters, and com­munity leaders. They collected opinions on the current state of high school facilities, technology and safety needs, impressions of the 2014 bond measure, and the feasibility of a similar ballot mea­sure next year.

Consultants Bonnie Moss and Lynn Davis reported that the community widely recognizes the needs of district high schools, and understands why they were targeted for bond proceeds over middle and elementary facilities. Stakeholders attributed the 2014 Measure K loss to lack of infor­mation, distrust of the board, pub­lic apathy and Villa Park’s rejec­tion of the bond.

In the event the board opts to float a bond next year, Moss and Davis recommended that the dis­trict tell the story more effective­ly, with a simple, factual, unified message. The message should clarify how bond funding works, and specifically, how the money would be spent. They suggested the district expand and accelerate its outreach information, engage stakeholders in two-way con­versations, and commit to being data driven. That is, let the data on bond financials, voter opinion, and separate facility improvement districts “tell you where to go.”

And finally, the board must be strategic, work together, look for common ground and earn com­munity trust. CliffordMoss is currently polling district voters to determine support levels for separate facility improvement districts, that is, dividing up pre­cincts surrounding the four high schools. If voters in a given high school area pass the bond, that school benefits; if they don’t, it doesn’t. Moss told the board she would report on that polling in January.

Despite the consultants’ opti­mism, 2016 may not be the best year for OUSD to attempt another ballot measure. It is likely that a statewide school bond measure will be on the November ballot. However, local voters remain dis­satisfied with the current OUSD board majority; three seats will be open for the fall vote, and the electorate will likely be focused on finding and supporting alter­native candidates.

December 2015