_

Van Vleck ISD

Nov. 2017

The community of Van Vleck ISD had not passed a school bond referendum since 1972, and had not built an entirely new school building since that year, either. After failing three consecutive bond elections in 2000, 2007, and 2014, Van Vleck ISD hired The Educated Vote to participate in the bond planning process and lead the communication campaign.

The Educated Vote teammates attended all bond planning meetings, engaging with Van Vleck community members and district administration and staff and taking note of the Facilities Advisory Committee’s process, questions raised, and the reasoning behind decisions made for their bond recommendation. After many months of work, the Facilities Advisory Committee recommended an $88.2 million bond (the largest in the school district’s history) that would replace the district’s existing facilities with a brand new elementary school, middle school, and high school; the Committee’s recommendation was unanimously approved by the Van Vleck ISD Board of Trustees and placed on the November 7, 2017 ballot.

The Educated Vote led the communication campaigns for both Van Vleck ISD and the committee that formed to support the cause, Van-tastically Voting for VVISD. The Van Vleck ISD campaign included informational items like flyers, take-home brochures, cut sheets for each of the proposed new campuses, a community forum presentation, campus signage, direct mail, and frequent updates via the district’s Facebook page, among other items. The committee campaign implemented strategies including yard signs and road signs, multiple direct mail pieces (because the district covers a large, wide-spread portion of Matagorda County), push cards, and an aggressive social media campaign.

Due to multiple factors, including the facts that Van Vleck ISD had not constructed a new school building for over 45 years and that the district was attracting industry that would bear the majority of the bond’s repayment, the advocacy committee’s entire campaign was centered around the theme “The Time is NOW.”

A rural district, Van Vleck ISD had a number of vocal wealthy property owners who organized in opposition to every school bond, including the November 2017 proposition. The opposition reverted to spreading misinformation, making it critical that the district and advocacy committee maintain aggressive communication to voters to keep them informed with correct data. In addition, Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast in late August, delaying the start of the committee’s campaign and causing concern that the bond election could be overshadowed and negatively affect voter turnout.

Despite the organized opposition and Hurricane Harvey, the November 2017 Van Vleck ISD bond was approved by voters by a 65% margin, with an impressive 32.6% of Van Vleck ISD registered voters participating in the election, the third highest voter turnout for November 2017 bond elections in the state of Texas.