The Leander ISD board of trustees heard and discussed a study process for a potential bond during a March 2 meeting.
Robert Stein, a Lena Gohlman Fox professor of political science at Rice University in Houston, proposed two possible surveys to gather information about the potential bond. Stein has been conducting public opinion polls for school districts since 2000 and will provide bond study services to the board.
The first survey would be conducted May 15 to June 1 and consist of about 52 questions. The survey would total about 11 minutes in length and include live telephone interviews with 500 likely bond voters, Stein said.
It would evaluate the district’s teaching staff, facilities, educational program and overall performance rating. The survey would include knowledge about student enrollment and growth, the district's current finances, voter demographics and people’s reasons for supporting or opposing the bond initiative.
“The second poll would only be done should the first survey tell us, even with various plans, you’ve got a soft base of support,” Stein said. “If you can’t get a first poll with more than sixty percent approval from voters, that’s concerning, because sixty percent sounds like a lot, but it can evaporate in a minute.”
Stein said a fast-growing district means the electorate is constantly changing. He said Leander is unique because there is not much turnover in the population, just growth in the amount of people.
The second survey is recommended only if there are problems with the first, Stein said. It would take place in September and October and assess the support for the proposed bond, examine any issues and concerns among voters and identify likely voters that are uninformed or misinformed about the bond proposal.
“This [second one] is a small survey, but once you approve a bond and put it on a ballot, then you’re living with it,” Stein said of the importance of identifying the public’s stance on a potential bond.
He said LISD has an electorate with 87 percent of citizen age voters registered to vote in both counties. The average is 62 percent.
“When you have that many people of citizen voting age who are registered to vote, that tells me it’s an active and informed public,” Stein said. “That’s why the first survey has to look at a range of [bond] options.”
He also said if a district loses a bond election, the chances of passing a second bond will drop.
The final product Stein’s services provide will consist of a survey instrument and sample design, a written report of the survey findings, a presentation of survey findings to the board, live telephone interviews and consultations with a potential bond committee.