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Good things take time.

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

And, despite all our advancements in architecture since then, cities still aren’t built in a day. And neither are schools, libraries, pools, or athletic fields. Community projects take years from idea to structure.

So, if you're thinking about a project you'd like to work on or want to know how your community feels, when should you consider reaching out for a community survey?

Referendums in Wisconsin largely take place in April and November. If you're hoping to get a referendum on the ballot in the fall, start thinking about your survey very early in the year. January or February is ideal. (Or think about it this way… If you want to test support for a potential referendum, your survey should be in residents’ hands about six months/two seasons prior to the election date.)

Not all this time is spent on creating the survey itself. During this time, you'll meet with our project managers to determine your priorities for the survey and get started on the first few drafts. Each draft of the survey, from questions to individual words, is carefully reviewed to ensure that the survey that people get is the survey that collects the data you need.

Bear in mind that most surveys require a fair number of drafts and approval cycles, so time will need to be set aside for those meetings. At the same time, we’ll also get started on finding a printing company to print the survey in our proposed timeline.

Once your school board has approved the final survey, the printing process can begin. At a minimum, printing companies need three weeks to print a medium-sized survey (i.e., eight pages), though the time can be slightly shorter or longer depending on the company and the availability of supplies, which can be difficult to predict.

Around a month is an ideal printing timeline. Your printer will bring the survey to the post office; from there, it's off to mailboxes in late spring for a November election.

But the work isn’t over yet, of course! After a few weeks of the survey being open, we’ll collect and report your results one to two months before your board’s deadline to get a resolution on the ballot. From there, you’ll decide if you want to go forward with a referendum.

Similarly, if you’re hoping to be on the ballot in the spring, it’s a good idea to get started thinking about your survey in mid-summer of the previous calendar year.

While it may seem like a long time, this timeline really helps us ensure that there is adequate time to write an effective survey that you feel comfortable with, get a printing company ready, have residents take the survey, and interpret the results.

Preparing for your survey well in advance is vital to have the best possible survey for your residents.

You can never bring us in too early.


The School Perceptions Blog and Resource Center features the voices of our team members. This post was written by Lindsey Naze, Data Analyst.


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