To paraphrase an old saying, “if you want something done right, ask a busy parent to do it”. That strategy certainly paid off recently in the Teton School District, where many parents, including local attorney Amy Potter, led the charge for a pair of school bonds, both of which passed by large margins. The authoritative thumbs up from voters came after two previous bond requests had not reached the 2/3 threshold for passage. This time around the elementary school bond passed with 79.6% approval, and the bond for upgrades to the middle school and high school garnered 77% approval.
“The school board took a different approach with more community input, then we formed a citizen committee with a good cross-section of people to rally support,” Potter says. “Many of the people on the bond committee were parents, teachers, or in many cases, both.”
Parents and teachers led the way as the committee went knocking on doors, distributing signs and tee shirts, chatting with shoppers at the super market, drafting Facebook posts, and providing information via a school board website (http://www.tsd401bond.org/), that included a tax calculator. Their efforts brought about a very high voter turnout, including a lot of early voters. “Election day was terrific, although maybe somewhat unexpected, since we didn’t have any exit polls to refer to,” says Potter.
The new bonds will enable the district to build a new elementary school and make much-needed upgrades to the aging middle school and high school. The committee knew the bond was a big ask of the community, since they have consistently passed levies every couple of years to help fund operations and keep teacher salaries competitive. “It was really important that we invest in a long-term solution,” Potter says. “It will have a big impact on student learning, but will also help stimulate economic growth and instill a lot of community pride.” Potter has two children who were part of her motivation for getting involved, Natalie, a 4th grader at Rendezvous Upper Elementary School ,and Nick, a 3rd grader at Victor Elementary School.
Individually and as a group, the Teton Education Association also played a key role in getting the bond passed. “Many of our teacher-members went door-to-door with the volunteer parents and were out on street corners holding up signs on election day,” says TEA past-president Lisie Smith, who currently represents the region on the Idaho Education Association’s Board of Directors. “We also posted our support of the bond on the TEA Facebook page and I personally wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper.”
The students of the Teton Valley School District will be the beneficiaries of the bond for many years to come, thanks to the combined efforts of parents, teachers, and other members of the community.
Teton Education Association Members Lisie Smith, Amy Sotin-Wood, Dayna Long