Monday, July 14, 2014





Schools modifying levy campaigns in hopes of success


August 24. 2013 7:12PM
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ELIDA — Undecided voters in the Elida school district will likely hear from the school levy campaign multiple times before the March 4 election.It’s what the “experts,” including local politicians who spend much time campaigning, have advised school officials to do.“At almost every incident, they told us grassroots, identifying the undecided voters, getting them information and making sure you contact them at least three times,” Elida Superintendent Don Diglia said.Elida is back on the ballot for the third time to raise funds for a new high school. It is joined by Lima, Columbus Grove and Kenton schools, all which have been previously unsuccessful at the polls.The districts are also campaigning with limited time because the primary election was moved from May to March.“It is a very difficult time frame,” Lima Superintendent Karel Oxley said. “And it’s also difficult because there is a lot of other work that needs to be done right now.”Lima schools is going back to voters for new operating money following a resounding November defeat. Oxley spent many nights last fall going door-to-door talking with residents. She won’t be the one people see this time. Instead staff, parents and residents will be at the forefront of the “grassroots” campaign.“They are going to take total ownership of it. They are going to be the ones out making the contact with people,” Oxley said. “We really want the community to see the people, to see the parents, to see the staff, to see the board members, to see each other.”The district will hold events, likely “fact nights,” where people can obtain levy information. Nothing like this happened during the last campaign. Residents will also learn in the coming weeks about reductions that would come if the levy fails.Elida schools surveyed residents to identify undecided voters and see how the levy is faring. The response has been positive, Diglia said, saying there are some who will always support a levy and others who will never.“It is those undecided voters who make a difference in the campaigns,” he said.While this campaign will include the usual community meetings and door-to-door campaign, it will focus a lot more on specific questions from people, Diglia said. It will also focus on specifics about costs, as well as specifics on how the district manages its money.A small campaign group that worked last time has expanded to include more people, all being community people.“People expect us to sell the message,” Diglia said. “But when we can get more and more people in the community selling the message also, I think that is critical.”Columbus Grove school officials will meet Wednesday to begin discussing a campaign to get a bond issue passed. It will be the district’s fourth attempt. Superintendent Bob Jennell suspects the district will do some usual things, such as community meetings, and maybe try new methods.The board, which includes two new members, recently decided between two possible building projects. It will build off the current site, the same plan which has previously been defeated. The state will pay more than in the past, something Jennell said needs to be stressed to voters. He believes leaving the decision to the new board was a good move. Three seats were filled.“They were put in by the public in just a matter of a couple months,” he said. “Obviously with them making the decision and it being 5-0 is definitely going to help.”Both Columbus Grove and Elida went to the ballot last time without full board support. That is not the case this time, Jennell saying having the full support shows the board is unified. Lima schools still must deal with one dissenting board member.Kenton schools will make its second attempt in May to raise its local share for a building project. A defeat in November followed three failed attempts for new operating money.Upper Scioto Valley schools will ask voters to approve a renewal levy for operating expenses. Voters have supported it since 1989, but the district has seen four failed attempts for new money in the last few years.Superintendent Nancy Wood Allison said the board is confident that voters will continue to support the renewal, but knows the district still has to campaign.“I don’t think you can assume anything,” she said. “People are very much using that right of voting to express their opinions one way or another. In this particular case, it is toward school funding.”





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