The Lansing School Board heard some mixed news Monday as the date for the district’s bond election draws near.
The Lansing School Board heard some mixed news Monday as the date for the district’s bond election draws near. A study commissioned by the district and conducted last month by Patron Insight shows that more of the 370 patrons surveyed support a proposed $73 million bond issue than are against it, with 45 versus 35 percent, respectively. However, the study also posits that 16 percent of repondents were yet to make up their minds on the issue. Ken DeSieghardt, chief executive officer of Stillwell, Kan., based Patron Insight, said he figured the actual number of undecided voters to be closer to 20 percent, since about 5 percent of respondents did not have a strong feeling either way. “They’re not willing to put their flag in the ground and say ‘I’m for it’ or ‘I’m against it,’” he said. As for knowledge on the issue, only about 21 percent of those who were surveyed were unable to name at least one part of the project or the cost. That shows a good amount of general awareness, DeSieghardt said. “Even those who don’t have the full story have a portion of the story,” he said. Awareness of the specifics of the proposal, however, were more mixed — less than 50 percent of respondents were aware that a long-range planning process had preceded the bond proposal, that out-of-district students in Lansing generate revenue instead of costing money for the district, that the state’s 41 percent contribution for funding bond and interest payments was a primary driver for the timing of the election or that that funding source is in danger of being eliminated next year. More than 50 percent of respondents, however, said they were aware of student population growth and that each of the district’s buildings were between 10 and 15 percent over capacity. Asked for an opinion on specific pieces of the proposal, a new high school ranked highest in terms of approval among those surveyed. The proposal for a competition pool narrowly led those aspects of the issue that patrons did not support, DeSieghardt said. According to the results of the survey, most patrons are getting information on the project from their friends and neighbors. The Leavenworth Times was the next most common source of news, followed by the district’s website. Another portion of the phone survey showed the district is held in high regard by the community — in a series of questions on which respondents were asked to rate the district’s performance which was then weighed on a scale of 1 to 5, the safety of students, performance of teachers, quality of educational and preparation of students for college all scored at about the top of the scale, near 4.5. “These are outstanding grades for the district,” DeSieghardt said. Overwhelmingly, respondents named teachers as the top strengths for the district. As for areas to improve, “I don’t know” was the top answer. Taken as a whole, DeSieghardt said the survey paints a picture for the district and for the bond campaign volunteers to use as they move forward to try to win over those 21 percent of people yet to make up their minds. “Now is the time that people are starting to make up their minds on a lot of things for November,” he said. “These are numbers that suggest the ideas and the facts that were stated earlier — those are the things that people need to know more about.” Meg Warner, working on the project with Hollis and Miller Architects, said her firm has already taken that lesson to heart, working on information for a newsletters and other materials. “We did take a lot of Ken’s suggestions, we really tried to put the 41 percent on everything,” she said, along with the fact that the bond issue would affect every student if approved.