How Public School Districts Communication Strategies Impact Levies in Ohio
CitationGagne, Joseph. 2018. How Public School Districts Communication Strategies Impact Levies in Ohio. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThis study explored the relationship between the communications strategies used by public school districts and the success of levy votes used to determine levels of school district funding. In particular, it investigated whether public school districts in Ohio that engage in pro-active, two-way communications prior to going on the ballot and campaigning for a tax increase levy are more likely to succeed than districts that do not engage in such activities. This question also leads to a significant follow up: What is the role of district leadership (i.e., school district superintendent) in creating and fostering a culture that values ongoing, pro-active two-way communication with the community?
Data were drawn from academic literature, personal interviews with district leadership, and primary materials (i.e., school newsletters and records of social media content) in three, detail-rich case studies of specific levy campaigns in Ohio. By identifying emerging themes across these case studies, this study argued that a school district can employ seven effective factors to achieve success at the levy ballot: 1) hiring communication-consulting help for the school district; 2) employing survey research (or polling) on the entire population of the school district’s community to assess views and priorities related to support for school funding; 3) mailing traditional community newsletters to the community at large; 4) employing social media; 5) employing two-way communications strategies ranging from tweet-ups to coffee klatches; 6) engaging in personal interaction in which district leadership meets with community members in a town hall style format, cultural events, coffee klatches, or one on one meetings; and finally 7) district leadership’s influencing the school district culture and perception of the school district to fit the needs and desires of the community so as to instill the community’s confidence that additional revenue constitutes a worthy investment.
This research suggested that engaging in proactive two-way communications constitutes a highly successful strategy in levy passage and therefore does make expenditures associated with it worthwhile. However, the amount of such resources actually spent would depend on the particular district’s situation and so must be decided on a case-by-case basis by the district itself. Findings offer insights for broader questions of the importance of two-way communications in building support for public institutions.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42004008