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Pre-election material

This page contains information related to the first two-thirds of any school finance election.  It begins with The ABC Pre-Election Planner, a self-assessment you can use to plan your election.

          After the Planner, you'll find The ABC Pre-Election Audit, a research-based assessment designed to do two things:  1. determine your chances of success at the polls; and, 2. develop a research-based campaign plan specific to your school district.


The ABC Pre-Election Planner

© Copyright 2011 by Banach, Banach & Cassidy 

  School elections can be divided into thirds: 1. conceptualizing a ballot proposal; 2. designing and implementing a campaign plan; and, 3. doing what you promised during the campaign.

The first two-thirds are the most important because without them you won't get a chance to address the final third.  And, without the final third, people will remember a failed election instead of a fulfilled promise.

The purpose of The ABC Pre-Election Planner is to help you be successful during the first third of the election.  It contains a checklist of items to think about before you finalize your ballot proposal and begin your election campaign.  It ends by giving you a clear understanding of what you need to do to develop a winning ballot proposal.

Read each statement below. Then grade your school district A, B, C, D, or F.

1. Is what you are proposing justified? It’s easy for a school leader to answer this question affirmatively, but does (or will) the proposal make sense to and receive the support of the proverbial “man on the street?”

2. Is your proposal salable? You may want a new $75 million high school, but if your community will support only $50 million, your $75 million proposal is not salable.

3. Is there a climate of support? This has more to do with opinions about your school district than concerns about the state or national economy. (Actually, schools have done quite well at the polls during last decade’s well publicized economic downturn.) If you have been honest with people and have built an inventory of goodwill, you are “one up.”

4. Have parents and other citizens been involved in development of the ballot proposal? Your chances of success are higher if people have had a chance to provide input.

5. Does the board of education unanimously support the ballot proposal? Unanimous board support sends a strong signal to the community. Voting 6:1 to place the proposal on the ballot sends a different signal, one that becomes more distorted with every negative vote.

6. Are school district employees generally supportive of the ballot proposal? As is the case with board of education support, employee support sends a strong signal. But, if your contracts aren’t settled and there is labor unrest, securing community and staff support for the proposal will be a challenge.

7. Does your school district have a strategic plan? More importantly, do people in your community understand your district’s priorities and its progress toward goals? You will run a more convincing campaign if you can tie your ballot proposal to a sensible strategic plan.

 8. Do you have a recent, representative sampling of public opinion in your school district? You should know what people like and dislike about your schools, what they consider a source of pride, attitudes toward educational programs and services, communication needs, and so forth. It is one thing to think you know what people are thinking. It is something else to really know. Conducting a survey may be the most important pre-election task.

9. Do you have enough yes voters? People vote for a school financial proposal because they personally have something to gain if it succeeds. Whether it is a parent protecting his child’s education or a citizen protecting her property values or someone else who will gain something else, are there enough of them to provide a base of support?

10. Will voters see your proposal as something that is needed now? Like most people, voters like to put things off. Unless there is a sense of urgency--preventing imminent damage to the instructional program, repairing a crumbling wall, enhancing safety and security--voters are likely to mentally put your proposal aside.

11. Does your school district have a written communication plan? If your communication program is research-based, accommodates both internal and external audiences, and provides people with the information that they need and want, your chances of winning on election day are much better than if you do not.

12. Do you disseminate good news? The Academy Awards ceremony is an extravaganza during which actors tell you how good they are and recognize their own achievements. Schools should do the same. They should let people know about their success and “blow their own horn” with pride.

13. Do you have enough lead time? While election campaigns are most visible in the 4-6 weeks before election day, much has happened in advance of this 30-45 day period. Allow yourself at least three months to a year to plan and implement an election campaign.

14. Do you have two or three high profile, high energy citizens to lead your election campaign?  Successful elections are citizen led BUT they are not designed and orchestrated by citizen volunteers. Because most citizens don’t have campaign experience, they will need to be trained before the campaign begins and guided as it unfolds. You should not “turn over" the campaign to citizens.

15. Will administrators maintain a low profile during the election? While they must provide information and respond to questions, they should not be the out-front people during the campaign. They may need some training to better understand the roles they should play.

16. Do you have an election data base? A key element in any campaign is the development and management of a data base. You should know things like who voted in the last school election, who is likely to vote this time, who will vote by absentee or mail ballot, and how supportive parents really are. Your data base should tell you these things and enable you to effectively target your messages to the right target at the right time.

17. Do you know how people in your community communicate? Think about what has happened during the last decade: Cell phones have replaced land lines for about one-third of American households; cell phone users are more likely to text than talk; and, social media such as Facebook and Twitter have proliferated. If you are not tapped into these technologies and networks, you are outside looking in.

18. Do you know your odds? Gone is the time when you could put forth a minimal campaign effort and win. Unless you take steps to plan a comprehensive, research-based campaign, your odds of winning are less than chance--less than 50:50! In many states, the odds are much worse. So, do whatever needs doing to discover your odds before you initiate a campaign. Postponing an election until things are right is a lot easier than coming back to the voters after a defeat.

How to score The ABC Pre-Election Planner

1. Convert the letter grade you gave each of the 18 items to a number, as follows: A = 4; B = 3; C = 2; D = 1; and, F = 0

2. Total the 18 numbers.

3. Add the numbers for items #8 and #16 to the total.

4. Divide the new total by 20. The answer is your “GPA” (grade point average) where 4 = A; 3 = B; 2 = C; 1 = D; and, zero = F. Hence, a 2.0 is a grade of C and a 3.5 is a grade of B+/A-.

----  If your GPA is C (2.0) or less, you should seriously consider delaying your election until you raise your individual item scores, particularly if you scored low on items 3, 5, 8, 11, or 16.

---- If your GPA is between C (2.0) and B (3.0), you should proceed cautiously while making swift and substantial efforts to improve your lowest scores. Attend especially to items 3 and 11.

---- If your GPA is B (3.0) or higher, you can proceed with confidence while continuing to strengthen your individual item scores. Attend especially to item 16.

Your scores on the individual items in The ABC Pre-Election Planner can be used to identify areas of strength and weakness. Use them to develop your plan and position yourself to effectively implement it.

Banach, Banach & Cassidy is one of America’s premier school marketing firms.

We specialize in school surveys and finance campaign planning.

Our surveys are fast and accurate... and less expensive than surveys conducted by other reputable firms.  And, our finance campaigns have generated billions of dollars for schools.

Our clients are school districts--big and small. 

They are people... like you!

Call us at 586/784-9888 before you plan your next election.




The ABC Pre-Election Planner

Fact Sheet

What is The ABC Pre-election Audit?

The ABC Pre-election Audit determines the probability of a school district winning 
its next finance or bond election.  The audit system instrumentation and software also 
generate research-based campaign strategies designed to improve the probability that 
your next election will be successful.  In effect, the audit generates a research-based guide to winning your next financial election.

How is it administered?

An identical audit questionnaire is completed by …

... the school board president, the superintendent of schools, the longest-serving central office administrator, all school principals, the teacher association president, and 10-15 other community members and/or school district employees identified by Banach, Banach & Cassidy.

These audit questionnaires are tabulated and analyzed.  The findings are then evaluated in the context of 18 demographic and psychographic data points (for example, occupations of residents, educational attainment of community members, housing values, voting patterns , etc.). 

The audit process also includes a review of your strategic plan.

What do school districts receive when the audit is complete?

A report of findings is sent to the superintendent.  It includes …

A.  A probability score and a background briefing explaining factors related to the probability score

B.  Thirteen composite scores which provide insights into perceptions of …

§ Leadership § Sources of pride
§ Communication effectiveness § Adequacy of facilities
§ School board governance § Public perceptions
§ Program quality § Organizational effectiveness
§ Parent/community engagement § Influence of external forces
§ Issue viability § Dominant values
§ Trust and confidence
C. Research-based campaign strategies designed to improve the probability of your election success. These are specific to your community and form the basis of a guide to winning your next 
financial election.
How long does the audit process take?
You can expect your audit results two weeks after we receive your completed questionnaires.
When should school districts conduct The ABC Pre-election Audit?
The audit is designed to be administered no more than three years and no less than three months before an election.
Who can order The ABC Pre-election Audit?
Any public school district in the United States can order the audit.
What does The ABC Pre-election Audit cost?
For school districts with student enrollments of 25,000 or less, the cost is $3,995. There is a large school 
district surcharge of $1,000 for every 1-10,000 student increment over 25,000.
Who can I call if I need more information?
Contact Dr. William Banach at Banach, Banach & Cassidy by phone (586/784-9888) or email (wbanach@aol.com).
How do I place an order?
It’s as easy as ABC! A. Call 586/784-9888 B. Say that you are interested in The ABC Pre-election Audit. C. Banach, Banach & Cassidy will send all audit materials and complete instructions to the school district superintendent.
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