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Raising Referendum Awareness : Citizens for Cerro Gordo Schools

Have you ever wondered how to run a successful ballot campaign or grassroots initiative? The process can seem daunting so we put together a case study of a recent local campaign in Illinois that successfully advocated for an ambitious $8 million plan to upgrade their community school district. The proposal would have an impact on local property taxes and we all know how difficult it is asking people to willingly pay more money. These guys accepted that challenge!

Shall the Board of Education of Cerro Gordo Community Unit School District Number 100, Piatt, Macon and Moultrie Counties, Illinois, alter, repair and equip the existing Cerro Gordo Junior and Senior High School facilities, including constructing and equipping an addition thereto and improve the sites thereof and issue bonds of said amount of $8,000,000 for the purpose of paying costs thereof?

Yes or No?

This is the referendum which took place on the 4th of April 2017 in the Cerro Gordo Schools district.

One group of people who felt very passionately about the proposed new developments were a group called Citizens for Cerro Gordo Schools and they worked exclusively with Ecanvasser to mine data, canvass homes and raise awareness about the referendum.

We can now happily say that the referendum was passed but the road was long and arduous. This group advocated strongly for a yes vote by campaigning and lobbying around 10 simple points.

Top 10 reasons to vote Yes

Reason #1: A safer, more secure Junior and Senior High School campus.

Reason #2: 21st Century Learning Environment

Reason #3 Ability to recruit and retain the best teachers

Reason #4 Athletics: New regulation size secondary gym & A/C in HS gym.

Reason #5 Fine Arts: JH gym remodeled into state of the art auditorium

Reason #6: Handicap Accessibility! Elevator connecting all 3 floors of the high school building!

Reason #7: New info Commons & Flexible Spaces

Reason #8: Community/student/teacher pride for our school facilities!

Reason #9: This referendum takes care of $3M worth of required work identified in the district's Health and Life Safety Survey.

Reason #10: Improved parking lots with better/safer traffic flow.

So how did Ecanvasser help:

As you tell, these guys didn’t lack passion, they knew their message and they knew they needed help spreading it. As a whole, the community joined together and knocked on hundreds of doors. A team of nearly 35 volunteers used Ecanvasser’s mobile apps to record receptions after talking to over a thousand people. The apps were useful because it allowed people to stay on point and not get sidetracked when discussing the reasons they wanted a yes vote.

It also showed that this group was willing to listen, not every resident wanted to pay an additional tax to solely benefit a school refurbishment. These issues were noted and may be revisited.

The Citizens for Cerro Gordo had access to a database of nearly 2,300 people. Each volunteer was allocated to a specific area in the town and then assigned to a specific canvassing route. Each volunteer was provided with a canvassing script and told to spread the word about the referendum. If a person was agreeable they passed on contact information so they could be reminded about the vote closer to polling day.

Further Details on the plans

The plan includes:

  1. 18,500 sq ft addition, connecting the 1929 and 1962 buildings which provide Indoor access between buildings Clear single point of entry with additional security Administrative offices adjacent to main entry Centrally located information commons, allowing use of existing library for instructional purposes New flexible commons/cafeteria with kitchen Secondary regulation-size gym adjacent to existing high school gym Convert existing gym to Auditorium/instructional space. Two new classrooms

  2. Improved traffic flow with new drive, as well as Additional parking and surface upgrades

  3. Accessibility and safety upgrades

  4. Updated, flexible learning environments and efficient space utilization

  5. Preservation of original 1929 building

  6. Health/life safety improvements

  7. A/C and updated restrooms for gym

The cost to the tax payer was proposed to have a maximum impact of $.49/$100/EAV, or $134/yr on a $100,000 home.

What impressed us most about this particular group of campaigners was their willingness to listen even when people didn't agree with their views, this was particularly evident in the feedback they gathered and even more so through their social media channels post election. They achieved the result they campaigned hard for but were still aware that others campaigned for different reasons. It's going to be exciting to see what initiative this group tackle next.

If data entry and canvassing is something you are interested in, why not sign up to try Ecanvassser for free here:

Also, share this with your friends on your social media platforms, don't forget to tag us!

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