By ROBERT PIERCE • Daily Leader
A week after voters in the Liberal school district turned down a $61- million bond issue to upgrade facilities in the system, the USD No.
480 Board of Education is looking to find out why residents voted against the item.
Members took a step in that direction Monday with a 5-1 vote to approve a proposal from Patron Insight of Stillwell to perform a follow-up survey.
Business and finance director Jerry Clay said the group will seek answers from 400 people who voted in the bond election, looking for an equal amount on each side of the issue.
“They will look for 200 ‘yes’ voters, 200 ‘no’ voters,” he said.
“They will ask them if they voted on the bond election. If they did, they will ask them how they voted. If they choose not to respond, they will say ‘thank you’ and move on to somebody that will respond to the question.”
Clay said group officials are particularly interested in the “no”
answers in order to determine why voters turned down the bond issue.
In a letter to Clay, Ken DeSieghardt of Patron Insight said the total cost of the survey will not exceed $14,300.
Board vice president Cheryl Louderback, who voted against the proposal, said she did not feel the survey was necessary.
“With all due respect, common sense tells us why they voted no and why they voted yes,” she said.
Board president Dan Diepenbrock disagreed, saying if the bond issue is to eventually pass, school officials need to know exactly why it did not pass in the April 7 election.
“It is expensive to try to get the bond issue passed,” Diepenbrock said. “We’ve got 20 or 30 or more people who spent hours and hours on this. We owe it to them to find out what this community wants.”
Louderback said the voters have spoken.
“They told us what they think,” she said.
Diepenbrock asked Louderback if she knew what the voters wanted.
“There are some things that we need, but not everything,” Louderback said.
“Everybody has a different opinion.”
After more discussion, the board made its vote.
In terms of timing for the survey, DeSieghardt said Patron Insight is currently conducting three days of focus groups in St. Louis.
“However, we could have the planning meeting (or meetings) as early as the evening of Monday, April 20,” he said. “A draft survey would be ready for you about three days after that meeting.”
DeSieghardt said once the survey is finalized, calling voters will take about two weeks, and analysis will take another week to 10 days.
“In round numbers, that means if the planning process goes quickly, we could likely have a final report to you around May 18,” he said.