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School board mulls bond failure's impact


Chairwoman Kim Strelchun felt there was no sense of urgency.

Board member Wayne Clift said the district had failed to make its vision for technology clear.

In a work session Tuesday night, the Hillsboro School Board publicly mulled why the $25 million bond was rejected by voters during the Nov. 5 election.

“I was really surprised with the results,” said board member Janeen Sollman. “I had an overwhelmingly positive response from the people I talked to.”

Sollman, who worked with Citizens for Hillsboro Schools to promote the bond, said she was impressed with the support network of people who canvassed homes and ran a phone bank to get the word out to voters.

“We put on a very strong campaign,” she said.

Voter turnout, however, was low at only 31.4 percent. The bond, which would have been used to purchase new technology, safety enhancements and infrastructure upgrades, was voted down 54.5 percent to 45.5 percent, with 20,845 votes cast, according to Washington County Elections Division data.

Strelchun, who also worked with the action committee to promote the bond, said she would analyze the voter data and possibly create a feedback loop for voters to determine why they voted yes or no.

Strelchun indicated community members did not feel a sense of urgency to pass the bond, which would have provided money to replace aging technology. Budget cuts have forced the school district to abandon its replacement cycle for worn out computers.

“If you cannot motivate enough people, it becomes a state issue, so that goes right into our legislative priorities,” Strelchun said.

Board member Glenn Miller noted the board would have to prioritize budget decisions next year, which could require spending money on technology that might otherwise be spent on teachers.

There was no decision on whether to put the bond before voters again, but board members agreed the bond’s failure requires reconsideration of how to approach voters with funding requests in the future.

“We need to emphasize the vision behind the technology,” said Clift, “instead of giving them a shopping list.”