By Mike Harris
Publisher and Editor
Rim school board trustees Monday night moved one step closer to asking voters to approve a $30 million-plus school bond facilities measure for next year.
Trustees meeting at the Rim district office unanimously voted to spend $25,000 to hire Clifford Moss, an Oakland, Calif.-based political strategy and public affairs firm, to work on a communication campaign to build public support for approving a bond measure.
The move came after trustees heard from Timothy McLarney, Ph.D., president of True North Research, that mountain voters might be inclined to support a new bond measure.
McLarney’s research team surveyed mountain voters in August. The results of the survey, McLarney said, showed that a majority of the 502 district area voters surveyed were likely to support a bond measure that would increase taxes by around $30 per year per $100,000 of assessed value (taxable property within boundaries of the district).
The survey showed that sampled voters strongly favored or somewhat favored providing Rim students with modern science, engineering labs and career tech facilities to prepare them for college, careers in fields like health, engineering and tech, and develop skilled trades.
Other survey points that measured positive during the survey included paying to keep computer systems and instructional technology up to date; providing for classrooms, facilities and tech needed to support high quality instruction in math, science, engineering and tech; and making facility repairs and upgrades where needed.
Key conclusions of the survey, McLarney said, showed it was feasible to move forward with a bond measure in 2020.
Positive signs from the survey results for the school board to move forward with a bond measure included sampled voters perceived that improving the quality of education locally is among the top two most important issues facing the community, and that there was about a 60 percent support for a bond measure.
McLarney also said that, based on the survey results, the school district should keep the bond tax rate between $30 and $55 per year per $100,000 of assessed value.
In terms of when to bring the bond measure in front of voters, he said the March 2020 or November 2020 elections were viable options.
The district hired True North Research earlier this year to do the survey, at a cost not to exceed $25,000.
After hearing the survey results, trustees then turned to the issue of whether to hire the Clifford Moss firm to launch a communications campaign aimed at building public support for approving a bond measure.
A representative from Clifford Moss, Bonnie Moss, principal, told trustees that it would take two or three mailers, social media outreach and community volunteers to reach out to voters to make for successful voter results.
District officials, after the meeting, told The Alpine Mountaineer that other communications firms had been interviewed, but the Clifford Moss firm showed the best performance and results in supporting other school districts with similar needs.
Cindy Gardner, trustee and school board president, said the reason why trustees were pursuing placing a school bond measure in front of voters was that the district has no money to pay for making additional major repairs and upgrades to the three elementary schools, the middle school and the high school.