Staff Engagement

Empowering staff ambassadors to support a
facilities referendum

School districts need all hands pulling in the same direction before they ask taxpayers for their hard-earned money.

When Dr. James Sebert, superintendent of Fond du Lac School District, was preparing to ask his community two questions on a $98.5 million bond referendum for facility upgrades, he needed to hear from district staff first. He wanted to know what they needed to become active allies in the fundraising effort.

Dr. Sebert was a newcomer to the ThoughtExchange community and keen to use the platform to harness the power of employee voice more effectively than past efforts had allowed. In the district’s first-ever exchange, Dr. Sebert asked staff the following question: What questions do you have regarding the district facilities referendum?

“It was very important for our staff, who are over 800 strong, to be able to speak prominently and with confidence about what the referendum meant to their neighbors, to the parents, and to the community members,” Dr. Sebert explains.

The exchange results gave Dr. Sebert what he calls a “teacher cheat sheet.” This resource empowered teachers and other staff to knowledgeably discuss the referendum questions and answer specific questions about how the district would spend taxpayer dollars.

“ThoughtExchange was the vehicle that allowed us to understand what teachers and staff members needed to know as well as prepare them to be strong district ambassadors,” he shares.

This conscious effort to elicit employee voice in a meaningful way paid dividends when the district put the referendum questions in front of voters on April 2, 2019.

“We passed both of our referendum questions at a 60 percent rate and I don’t believe we would have been anywhere close had we not really engaged our staff voice,” Dr. Sebert says. “ThoughtExchange was a great resource for helping us get over the hump.”

Q: What questions do you have regarding the district facilities referendum?

Dr. Sebert is building on the success of Fond du Lac’s first ThoughtExchange experience by using the platform in other areas of employee experience.

He says ThoughtExchange has raised the bar for Fond du Lac’s employee engagement efforts thanks to the platform’s ability to ensure just a few people in the room don’t dominate important discussions.

“ThoughtExchange helps to level the playing field and close the feedback loop,” he shares. “It’s a great way to give everybody a voice.”

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ThoughtExchange provides software solutions that bring people together, build trust and make progress on important topics. Whether it’s employees, customers or whole communities, our solutions effortlessly connect you to your stakeholders. People can confidentially and independently share their thoughts, appreciate other points of view and understand how their perspectives are connected to decisions. Our patent-pending data analysis gives you the insights to make informed decisions and take action.