Elections and Community Engagement: Dr. Deb Henton,
North Branch Area Public Schools

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How the North Branch team got a yes from their community after 15 years of no

In our recent virtual event, Dr. Deb Henton shared how her team got to yes after 15 years of failed bond referendum attempts. Here are our top five takeaways from her talk. We hope you’ll find them helpful when working on bond elections in your district.

Learn what matters first: Deb knew she needed to learn what mattered to the community before running a bond election. Her team used every tool at their disposal to reach out, get feedback and build trust.

Get your staff on board: Exchange results showed Deb her staff wasn’t united around the bond effort. She knew a lack of unity would affect the chances of success and worked to bring her people together around the campaign.

Give people choice: From her first bond attempt Deb learned people didn’t like having one question. They wanted options. She followed up with three questions and got a resounding yes. Choose your words carefully: Deb discovered her community didn’t respond well to specific language. She analyzed the words people used in their exchange feedback and incorporated them into the bond information.

Be vulnerable: The North Branch team faced a labor dispute right before the election. Instead of tightening communications, Deb chose vulnerability. She went on Facebook live and spoke the truth to all the questions she received.
“We had aging facilities and we knew we needed to take care of them. So we used Thoughtexchange to add to our base of knowledge about what the community wanted, and we knew we were getting authentic feedback. It really helped us move forward.”Dr. Deb Henton  North Branch Area Public Schools
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