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HLWW School Board considers using a referendum consultant
Feb. 28, 2020

Nancy Dashwood
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, WINSTED, MN – The Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW) School Board took a step toward another referendum campaign at its meeting Feb. 24, welcoming consultants from two different firms.

Consultant considerations

Todd Rapp, representing Rapp Strategies, indicated his firm had a record of referendum success. He said Rapp Strategies has referendum experience with 39 Upper Midwest school districts, and has provided strategy and communications for 15 operating referenda. Rapp said this equated to $1.9 billion in successful building projects since 2008.

Rapp presented three levels of services. The first level, for which Rapp Strategies would provide basic communications material cost $7,000.

The second level would provide advanced communications material for $9,500,

The third level offers both strategy and materials for $3,500 per month.

Krisanthy Sikkila spoke next, on behalf of Dehler PR. She said her firm had a record of 17 referendum wins and five losses.

She indicated Dehler PR focused on four steps to referendum success: community engagement, a good project, a good district story, and committed advocates.

Sikkila said her firm develops customized plans for the districts with which they work, and provides research, assessment and planning, communication, and evaluation services.

Sikkila said a typical referendum campaign costs between $27,000 and $34,000. She noted that total is usually approximately 1 percent of the total of the funds brought in by a successful referendum.

Board members agreed to discuss both presentations at their work study meeting in March. If a decision is made at that time to hire one of the firms, that action would take place at the regular school board meeting in April.

Defining mission statement, vision, and goals

Superintendent Brad Sellner told the board he was receiving ideas from students and staff regarding potential district mottoes. He said use of the work “Laker,” and sailing imagery appeared to be popular.

Sellner said that, ideally, the motto would somehow emphasize the district’s core values of literacy; 21st-century technology; social/emotional learning; college and career readiness; and service to school, community, and country.

Director Katie Koch encouraged a less-is-more motto, so that fewer words could be used, but still carry a powerful message.

Odds and ends

In other business, the board:

• approved a transportation software contract with Transfinder. The system will cost $16,545 for the first year, with $6,500 for service costs in years two and three

• learned from Sellner that presenters at upcoming board meetings are scheduled to include an individual presenting information about Spanish immersion classrooms, and district elementary teachers to discuss literacy strategies.

• planned that the board’s March 23 work session would include discussion regarding the referendum consultants, and a closed session to discuss Sellner’s performance review.

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