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We Are Not In Pennsylvania Any More, Phil!. Dr. Robert G. Stabile . Powerhouse Politics for Schools. There is nothing more important to your school district and your people than passing the levy - nothing!.

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dr robert g stabile
Dr. Robert G. Stabile
  • Powerhouse Politics for Schools
There is nothing more important to your school district and your people than passing the levy - nothing!
You will need to create a permanent political organization, whose daily shepherding duties will be generally forfeited to the superintendent.
    • Special Consultants
The permanent political organization will be responsible for such duties as:
    • Fund Raising – No District $ for campaign
    • Regular newsletters
    • District Surveys
    • Educating the electorate
    • Social Activities
You win your school issues everyday! You will always be campaigning! Your life is about to greatly change. Public relations becomes a greater focus.
You will need to create even more opportunities for the general public to use your facilities:
    • Open schools
    • Computer labs uses
    • Adult education programs
    • “How to” series for parents

80% don’t have students in your schools.

PA is the second oldest state in the union.

Your political acumen must be increased
    • Precinct Organization
    • Focus groups
    • Superintendent and board representation in every possible club and organization in the school district
I can’t stress this enough – Superintendents, your life and focus will be entirely different than it is now!
Some texts stress the importance of the perceived quality of the school district. However, from my experience, it is an issue of increased taxation, and school referenda are one of the few taxes upon which the electorate can directly vote.
Unfortunately, the superintendent and board are the lightning rods for criticism about school expenses.
    • Keep administrative costs as low as competitively possible
The rational approach would favor educating the electorate as to why the school district needs more funding. You will need to do this.


My experience is that it becomes emotional.

You will be amazed at the reasons individuals

give as to why they voted “NO” on the levy


The real reason people vote “NO” on school issues is because they do not want any increase in taxes.
the campaign
The Campaign
  • 1 year prior to election
    • Focus on the needs of children in the community, or the importance of education, or the impact of school, or home values and community pride
    • Get your friends out to vote
      • Just because you are most likely surrounded by individuals who are positive about and involved in your district, do not forget that the majority of people in your community don’t hold these same views.
    • Do your financial homework
Many citizens will not believe school leaders when they say that the district needs additional money. You can never cut enough.
    • Increased Class sizes
    • Outdated materials
    • Facilities in ill repair
    • Bussing
    • Extracurricular activities

Although the last two items should be a last resort, they are the issues that will pass your levy.

as in sales know the objections
As in sales, know the objections
  • Resistance to higher taxes
  • Teacher salaries and benefits
  • People with no children in public schools
  • Senior citizens or others on fixed incomes
    • Going to have to sell the farm
organization of the campaign
Organization of the Campaign
  • Chairperson(s)
  • Planning committee
  • Day-to-day administration
  • Private consultant
Your basic strategy is not to convert negative voters, but to outnumber them at the polls on election day
    • Devote your resources to your most positive areas first
campaign tasks
Campaign Tasks:
  • Campaign Room
  • Campaign Calendar
  • Campaign Newsletters
  • List of Registered Voters
    • By precinct
Simply asking people if they intend to vote for or against an upcoming school issue gives false positive results.
  • Give them the following choices:
    • I would certainly vote for it
    • I would almost certainly vote for it
    • I would probably vote for it
    • I am undecided
    • I would probably vote against it
    • I would certainly vote against it
  • Only people who respond positively to the first choice can be considered “yes” voters on the upcoming school issue.
  • School Staff Members
  • Parents who have children in your schools
  • Parents of children in extracurricular activities
  • Parents of newborns
  • Students – I have a personal bias against the direct use of students and children in school campaigning. You will have to make this decision yourself.
after the campaign
After the Campaign-
  • De-Brief
    • Why you won
    • Why you lost
  • Thank Yous
for further information
For further information:
  • Dr. Frederick C. Johnson, Superintendent

Selinsgrove Area School District

401 N 18th Street

Selinsgrove, PA 17870