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Wold’s community-driven referendum process helps schools prepare for next-generation learning

In today's fast-paced world, education is rapidly evolving, and school districts must adapt their facilities to meet the needs of all our learners. As teachers and staff work to better prepare students for the future and be career ready, many recognize the need to create more engaging learning environments and reach beyond traditional educational methods. Schools that are outdated or ill-equipped must assess their needs to prioritize and allocate funding.

One way schools can acquire the necessary funding to renovate or add space is by successfully rallying their community around a referendum bond. Depending on the state in which the district is located, bonds may be the only source of funding to accomplish construction and capital improvements district-wide. Whenever a school district wants to build new or add-on, often a ballot measure is required to pass with a majority of voters.

Wold’s expertise in educational design extends far beyond creating future-ready schools. In the last 15 years, our education team has assisted over 60 clients across the country to pass more than $4 billion in bond referendums. In the last two years alone, we have helped pass funding for over 500 construction projects. Below, we are sharing how we partnered with districts to build consensus and educate stakeholders. When the public understands the value and need to transform and modernize school environments, they are often more likely to strongly support the funding required.

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Increasing referendum success through a facility planning committee

When referendum bonding is necessary, Wold leverages a community-driven process that emphasizes engagement from all local voices. Our team begins our partnership with a planning process centered on gaining a deep understanding of the district’s top facility needs, curriculum objectives and strategic plan.
This process includes the development of a long-range facility and maintenance plan to incorporate health and life safety considerations, along with life-cycle replacement costs for aging infrastructure.

We bring together stakeholders, including parents, teachers, staff, students and local residents, to form a facility planning committee to ensure all voices are heard. A sense of ownership and pride in the project is created by asking for their input. Engaged communities are more likely to support the referendum, thus increasing its chances of success.

To prepare as much information as possible to present to the committee, we conduct a variety of fact-finding activities including a facilities condition assessment, an educational adequacy assessment, capacity study and security analysis. These assessments help identify areas that hinder next-generation learning, such as outdated classrooms, limited technology integration or inadequate collaboration spaces. Our solid road map for the decision-making process ensures a referendum addresses the most critical needs and priorities.

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Following this data collection period, our team works closely with the committee to develop the best option to address the needs and values that emerged during the planning process. We work to build group consensus before creating and implementing final solutions, offering the best possible chances for a referendum to be passed. Once the committee comes to an agreement, we compile the information and present our recommendations to the school board and key community influencers. When a final decision is ready to be brought to the public in the form of a referendum bond, our team often partners with consultants to develop a campaign strategy. We provide a playbook with a detailed timeline focused on the referendum campaign process. Subcommittees will tackle tasks ranging from publicity and canvasing, to voter registration.

A successful referendum provides a solid foundation for transforming schools. By engaging the community in a facility planning committee and creating campaign advocates, districts will guide their schools toward success. At Wold, we are committed to helping districts prepare for the future through innovative and flexible design together with our rigorous planning process. Contact us today to embark on your transformative referendum journey and create exceptional learning environments for the next generation of students.

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