Saline Board of Education Approves Bond Resolution for Nov. 8 Ballot, Discusses Plans to Promote Initiative

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Anna Britnell, Director of Communications for Saline Area Schools, addresses the board about the district's information strategy regarding the bond issue.

The Saline Area Schools Board of Education took its next step Tuesday night in moving forward a new $180 million bond proposal for the district, unanimously approving a resolution from Thrun Law Firm to have the issue placed on the Nov. 8 ballot.

As previously reported by the Post, school officials said the $180 million is earmarked for infrastructure, safety and security upgrades, education and STEAM labs, technology, community athletic fields, as well as other sweeping improvements.

The new millage proposal is .5 mills smaller than the one about to expire.

If the existing millage were maintained it would raise $220 million, but the board was advised it would be less likely to be approved when put to a vote.

Superintendent Steve Laatsch promised a “deeper dive" into the new proposal at the next board of education meeting Aug. 23.

David Raft, Principal of Operations for the district, first pitched the new bond proposal to the board in May after surveying the community as to its potential for being passed.

School officials will now prioritize getting their message out to district families and area voters on how approving the new bond would benefit all involved.

Director of Communications Anna Britnell said they need to work quickly.

“Because absentee (voting) has become so much more popular, our campaign is really won in the month of September and not so much October and November anymore, so September is crucial and right away we’re going to have to get into some of those staff meetings,” she said of bringing district employees up to speed.

The district’s informational approach will be focused on the classrooms at the elementary school level.

“Basically every K-5 teacher will be asked to identify one to two classroom leaders. Some of them will be the room parents or the room guardian, or some of them may just be parents who are passionate about school bonds and understand what this means to the future of Saline,” she said. “We will lean on them heavily to be that liaison between our message and what needs to get out there in that entire classroom list.”

As for the middle school, Britnall said they will be in touch with extracurricular groups and parent organizations that are already heavily active.

“Parent groups are generally really involved and passionate about some of the projects that are going to be happening from this bond,” she said. “And then, of course, we always lean really heavily on our DPC group, which is our District Parent Council, that Steve (Laatsch) and I meet with once a month that involves all of our PTOs and PTAs.”

You will also see school representatives out and about.

“(The) Saline community is always very, very supportive and we have a huge footprint in the community already,” she said. “So there’s a long list of things we’re going to get involved with, be present at, different booths and tables and informational things for them to really understand what this is for and what it does for our district and broader community.”

In addition to social media efforts and web-based campaigns, Britnell said all seven district buildings will have large “bond boards” with detailed information about the proposal, broken down into three primary categories: education, facilities and future.

“We want to move quickly and get a lot of stuff off the ground, but every single thing we do has to go through legal,” she said.

Board President Jennifer Steben praised the multifaceted approach to the campaign, including relevant information being available at the schools in large formatting.

“So, I’ve heard about the bond boards and this is the first time I’ve seen it,” she said. “I absolutely love the idea of building marketing and rising up through all of the school to really make sure parents understand what the bond is about.”

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