Report: Winning School Referenda Requires Campaign Savvy

Superintendents Weigh In On Process

A new report indicates that school superintendents who want voters to approve requests for additional district funding need to become campaign savvy.

The report from Indiana University's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy found that voters have approved 42 percent of school funding referenda since the referendum process began in 2008.

Report co-author and associate director of education at CEEP Terry Spradlin said superintendents need to learn the ins and outs of campaigning to get referendums passed.

"They have to become familiar with the nuances of campaigning and managing a campaign," Spradlin said.

The report indicates that districts need to stress the importance of the money.

Spradlin said one superintendent told him the community thought schools were asking for money it wanted rather than needed, which contributed to a referendum failure.

"I don't think the legislators ever imagined when they passed that law in 2008 that within six to nine months, we'd have the biggest recession in decades," Spradlin said. "That certainly has had an unintended consequence on all public programs, including K-12 education."

Center Grove, Westfield Washington, Zionsville and Monroe County school districts will have referendum votes this November.

CEEP has created an online database to track referendum votes.