Archive for Thursday, January 20, 2005

School bond backers organize

January 20, 2005

Supporters of the proposed school bond are mobilizing to get voters to approve the $23.6 million measure in April.

Ali Zeck, a member of the committee that analyzed the condition of current school facilities, urged the roughly 20 people present at a supporters' kickoff meeting on Tuesday to sign up for the five campaign committees. She said she hoped to get about six or seven people in each committee.

"I'm very optimistic," Zeck said of the work ahead for bond supporters. "The neat thing about Lansing is that the people in it are very hands-on."

Voters on April 5 will be asked to approve the bond issue, which would allow the district to build a new K-5 elementary school, an auditorium and instrumental music addition to the existing high school, and add site improvements such as parking and entry road alterations.

The bond supporters' steering committee is currently headed by Zeck and includes Bernd Ingram, also a member of the district's Facilities Planning Committee, and Beth Stevenson, who is running for one of the open school board seats in April. Other committees are finance, publicity, Vote Yes, volunteers and speakers bureau.

Zeck said the group's finance committee was in charge of raising money for the campaign and running finances; the publicity committee would put together brochures and other promotional materials; Vote Yes, is in charge of finding voters and getting them to the polls and canvassing either by phone or in person. The volunteers committee will be in charge of tasks such as driving people to the polls on Election Day and setting up refreshments at events. The Speakers Bureau Committee will arrange talks to community groups, like the Kiwanis Club and Chamber of Commerce, to gather support for the bond.

The next step, Zeck said, is to pull together names of volunteers and get committees started.

"I would say by the end of next week we'll have all the committees lined up and chaired," Zeck said.

After that, they'll set a date to get all the committee members together to see what individual schedules and time commitments look like.

Volunteers who don't have the time to commit to speaking in front of local organizations or chairing a committee can still perform quick tasks like stamping envelopes or making calls, no more than a couple of hours a week, Zeck said.

Schools Superintendent Randal Bagby spoke first at the meeting and outlined the board's plans for the bond issue.

He and Ingram both addressed the issue that they thought residents would be most concerned about: a tax increase.

"The reality of it is that it's going to require an increase in taxes," Ingram said.

But he added he hoped the community would recognize the need for new facilities.

Ingram said the most important task for committees was to get "good information" out to the community. He pointed to the failed 2003 bond and said there was a lot of bad information floating around. This time, Ingram said, supporters must make disseminating correct information their top goal.

There has yet to be any organized opposition group formed to urge voters to reject the school bond issue.

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