Have a Big Vote Coming Up? There’s Pre-Referendum Services for That

Posted by Robbie Schultz, LEED AP, CHC on Sep 24, 2015 8:21:00 AM

A successful bond referendum centers on community involvement. Board unity is one of the most crucial factors in determining whether a referendum will pass. A community-based steering committee should oversee the actual referendum campaign, and you likely have some of these committees and programs in place. Winkelman Building Corp. can fill in as needed to provide support for the promotion of your school referendum. Here are some tips for your pre-referendum campaign.

Voters Support Issues They Understand

A referendum reflects a “values” vote. A person’s values are not going to change during a campaign. Changing a staunch “no” mind is very difficult, therefore it’s very important to identify “yes” voters and work on getting them to the polls on Election Day. School administration and boards certainly may work on the referendum campaign, but the community must play the major role. School districts cannot work to influence resident’s votes other than to provide the facts of the referendum.


Voters support issues they understand. A vote dealing with a tax issue sounds dull. Give adequate time and discussion to explain the issues. Grant feelings of ownership for the building plan, internally and externally. Formulate a plan of attack, utilizing your district survey to:

  • Write promotional materials simply. Omit jargon, and include how the building program will impact on kids. Remember, it’s more than square footage and site requirements.
  • Discuss tax increase in terms of “dollars and cents”. Many people understand the increase when explained in additional tax dollars on a $160,000 home or farm property, for example.
  • Garner support from the school “family”. All school employees need to understand the rationale for the vote, because they will be approached on the topic as a source of information.
  • Meet with elected officials. They have their own supporters, and can influence this network in a positive way to support the referendum.
  • Include the media in your community. Establish a platform to explain the district’s needs and gain objectivity, if not support, for the campaign.

Organizing Your Referendum Campaign

We are prepared to lead the efforts of your steering campaign and guide the pre-referendum process having directed campaigns with months of lead time to those with as little as six weeks of time prior to the vote. We can handle your timeline. A steering committee represents both the district and “Yes” committee. All sub-committee chairs automatically hold membership on the steering committee. The role of this committee is to develop and oversee the efforts of the individual sub-committees that have specific responsibilities.

A media committee will develop and implement all visual and written materials including direct mail, social media, website, and print. A school committee group interacts and educates all district staff. This includes educators, support staff, administrative support, maintenance personnel, food service staff, bus drivers, etc. A youth committee’s purpose is to coordinate district-wide effort of all secondary students. In addition to giving them the facts (like all 18-year olds can vote!), the intention is to educate them to share information with their families. A finance committee has the sole responsibility to raise funds to support the various campaign expenses for media, advertising, and other areas of support. A “Get Out the Vote” committee requires the largest number of volunteers. Their role is to get the “yes” voters to the polls. This includes canvassing district residents to identify these voters and to keep them involved and engaged.

Winkelman as Your Pre-Referendum Services Leader

As illustrated above, there’s a lot that goes into a school referendum. Months of preparation and planning. Identifying your crew of committees and leaders, establishing a timeline, and handling all the components that are presented with managing a campaign in any district. This is our sweet spot. We’re passionate about educational projects, and are committed to better serving the communities in which we live, work, and raise families. Let us help. 

 School Pre-Referendum Services

Topics: Community, School Construction

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