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USC committee working on vote

By Staff | Jul 29, 2012

Since their first meeting on May 30, a group of United South Central School District residents has been working on one goal: passage of the $28.825 million bond referendum on Aug. 14 to build a new school.

On Tuesday night, 20 members of the USC-Believe in the Future! committee gathered for their weekly update on the progress of their campaign.

“We’re just trying to get the correct information out to the public, so they can make an informed decision,” says committee member Darin Magnuson.

The group has been subdivided into five areas, with each responsible for a specific task.

Committee member Dan Hart says they now have more than 320 members and have received “generous donations” to support their efforts.

Hart says 6,000 people with Facebook accounts have visited the finance committee’s site.

“The past week it’s been very active, by people who claim they are residents of Wells or live within a 25-mile radius,” says Hart.

Magnuson calls using “social media” to provide information and gain support just another tool for the committee.

And, he stresses word-of-mouth campaigning is still important.

“Facebook is a huge option, but not everyone uses it. Don’t forget to talk with people.You still need that face-to-face contact,” says Magnuson.

The committee is well into its advertising “vote yes” push.

Of the 500 yard signs printed at a cost of $2,500, about 25 remain. “In less than seven days we distributed 470. They’re all over, in every city of the district. I think that’s pretty cool,” says Hart.

There are plans to have 2,500 door hangers printed, explaining the current school’s deficiencies and benefits of a new kindergarten through 12th-grade facility.

Committee members also will be trying to educate district residents how they can vote absentee, register to vote at the polls and where to vote on election day.

Hart and another committee member say explaining what the tax impact would be to property owners if the referendum passes is important. Especially, to agricultural landowners.

“Three farmers who got their numbers back were pleased and surprised,” says a committee member.

“They said it was a third less than what they estimated,” Hart adds.

Radio commercials featuring students, parents and business leaders will soon hit the airwaves. And, newspaper advertising also will be purchased.

Marcus Eytcheson and five other volunteers have been gauging support for a new school the old-fashioned way – making telephone calls. So far, around 2,000.

Eytcheson says about 98 percent of the parents with children in school want to see a new school built. And, overall slightly more than 50 percent surveyed have indicated they will vote yes.

“It looks awful good. But, we’re not going to stop. We’ll do everything to get it done; to get it passed this time,” he says.

This is the fourth time USC District voters have been asked to approve a bond referendum.

Last year, School Board members decided to build a new school rather than spending nearly $20 million to remodel the current building.

If built, the new facility would be 151,000 square feet with a capacity for 750 students.

“It’s going to be a very active final two weeks. It will be a big push and very important,” says Magnuson. “We come this far and I’d hate to see us fall short.”

The Wells City Council and Chamber of Commerce have gone on record in favor of a new school.

But, not everybody is onboard.

A group called Taxpayers for Dollar$$ & Sense has started running ads giving reasons why district residents should vote “no.”