School Board Hears Feedback on Why Referendum Failed
ST. CLOUD - The St. Cloud area school board heard feedback on why a recent referendum failed, summarized from recent community listening sessions.
The $167 million November referendum, which included money for a new Tech and updates to Apollo High School, failed with 53% voting against and 47% voting yes.
After the referendum, leadership decided to gather feedback from the community through a series of listening sessions. More than 600 community members were invited, of which there was a mix of supporters/non-supporters across 150 participants.
The following reasons were consistently mentioned as things "liked" about the referendum:
1) Tech is old and something needs to be done.
2) A new school is good for community.
3) The new facility supports modern and future educational needs
4) The new facility brings more Tech extra-curricular activities together on one campus.
On the other hand, the following reasons were consistently mentioned as "concerns" about the referendum:
1) A lack of clear vision - campaign was about a building as opposed to benefits for children, business and community.
2) The campaign message wasn't clear.
3) The cost estimates lacked detail, accuracy and credibility.
4) No plan for the current Tech site.
5) A reduction in polling places seemed manipulative.
6) Perception that the 90 person community task force outcome was pre-determined.
7) Not able to answer questions/lack of transparency.
As a result, five initiatives were recommened to the school board as work that needs to be done to make progress to the next referendum: build the district's brand, share a vision for education, re-examine the referendum structure, confirm the Tech decision and develop a plan for the current Tech site.
Superintendent Willie Jett says another referendum could be brought back this fall.
"We've been working under the time frame of a November referendum, but in this process if we determine we need more time to get it done correctly, we will collectively make that decision to push it back."