A grassroots group has turned the tide in its fight to save a local school. The key: appealing to community values. When the town of Scottsbluff, Neb., put forth a bond initiative that included plans to demolish and replace the Bluffs Middle School (formerly high school), a group of citizens, including graduates of the school, sprung into action to defeat it. Acentral part of their campaign as an ad in the Scottsbluff Star-Herald newspaper, which spoke directly to voters with these points:
“In the weeks that have passed since, the school board members have openly questioned how they could have misread the voters’ support of their plan,” reports Dave Thiele, one of the organizers of Save Bluffs Middle School (Save BMS). That group continues to meet to discuss options and strategies, obtaining advice from the National Trust and the Nebraska Lied Main Street program.
On June 25 the Scottsbluff school board held a meeting to solicit citizens’ views on what changes and improvements they would like to see made to local schools. Two school board members attended a follow-up meeting of Save BMS, and “we exchanged a great deal of positive communication,” Thiele says. The school board will form a planning committee in the fall, and Save BMS expects to participate.
Whatever happens next, there is already a positive outcome: a new sense of collaboration between the school board and local citizens in planning for the future of local schools.
A portion of the ad created by Jason Frank and Pat Power.Publication Date: September/October 2007
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