Planning a pre-referendum survey? Read this. It’ll save you time.

It’s community survey season for us at School Perceptions. We have dozens and dozens of community surveys out across the country, and we anticipate many dozens more to come next spring. During our early conversations with you, we’ll focus on the answers to three questions:

  1. What projects would potential referendum money cover?

  2. What are the needs driving those projects?

  3. Why do those projects need to be addressed in the near future?

Before we answer those, let’s talk a little bit about how our community surveys work. And let’s be frank here: we are in the business of helping you figure out if a potential referendum will pass or fail. We are not in the business of advocating for an outcome.

Now, with that in mind, our surveys are meant to accomplish two goals.


The first goal is what one administrator referred to as an “interactive newsletter.” In other words, survey-takers need to understand your plans, your timelines, and your project costs before they can give you educated feedback. In that sense, our surveys can help you explain where you’re at in your planning processes.


The second goal is precisely what you’d expect a survey to do: collect quantitative and qualitative data from your stakeholders to inform your strategic and pre-referendum planning processes.


So, let’s return to our questions. To be a valuable “interactive newsletter,” respondents need clear, simple, and concise answers to the three questions I introduced above.


Let me repeat that because it’s so critically important: clear, simple, and concise.


Clear. Simple. Concise.


In general, the longer a survey gets, the more likely it is someone stops reading. And once they stop reading, they stop giving you educated feedback. And once when they stop giving you educated feedback, your strategic and pre-referendum planning will fall apart.


This isn’t always easy. We live in a world of education and school finance jargon. Jargon is not helpful to your average resident. (Actually, jargon isn’t beneficial for anyone, but that’s a different blog post…).


The three answers to these questions should be written for grandma and grandpa and fit onto one page—with pictures! Everyone loves pictures! “Worth 1,000 words…”


We’ll help you get there. This is where we shine. We’ve been through this process many thousands of times. But the sooner you think about answers to these questions, the better your survey will turn out.


The School Perceptions Blog and Resource Center features the voices of our team members. This post was written by Rob DeMeuse, Research Director & Project Manager.


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