In the fastest growing region of the fastest growing state in the nation, four out of five schools are well over student capacity, and all are looking at significant enrollment increases in the immediate future. The school district of West Ada County, Idaho, which receives funding for expansion and infrastructure improvement only through bond measures approved by a supermajority of voters, proposed such a bond in March: $95 million to build new schools, expand and improve others, and buy land for future school sites before property values rise much further. The Boise Regional REALTORS® (BRR) launched an energetic campaign to convince voters to approve the proposal. It passed narrowly with about 1% margin of the vote.
According to BRR President Gary Salisbury, the need was urgent for the community, and therefore, the industry: “Keeping up with our region’s rapid growth is an important issue for our association. We are enjoying an era of great economic expansion, but we must take care to foster it so that young families and big companies will continue to be attracted here. The strain on our schools caused by the booming population is a situation that needed immediate attention and long-term vision; passing this bond was an important step in accommodating our clients’ needs and ensuring we have safe and state-of-the-art learning facilities.”
BRR was joined in the effort by local mayors, chambers of commerce, the school district itself, and several private businesses. Soren Dorius, BRR’s Director of Government Affairs, says that the REALTOR® Party’s support of the campaign was invaluable. As the bond issue was the only item on the ballot, it was largely a push to get-out-the-vote. “The required supermajority meant that for every ‘no’ vote, we needed two ‘yes-es’,” he explains. The Issues Mobilization Grant that BRR received helped to fund a persuasive “Get out the Vote” mail piece targeting thousands of households with a strong voting history, and live persuasion phone calls in the final weeks leading up to the vote. The local REALTORS®’ 10% match contribution was funded through their investments into the Corporate Ally Program, which allows for ‘soft money’ from affiliate members and others in the community to be used for issues campaigns.
BRR CEO Breanna Vanstrom recently spoke as a guest panelist at the 2018 Association Executive Institute, highlighting the importance of NAR’s resources in this bond campaign. “We greatly appreciate the financial commitment of our association members and industry partners, allowing us to tackle important issues related to sustainable growth,” she says. “Their active investment in RPAC and the Corporate Ally Program enables us to demonstrate our ‘skin in the game,’ for critical grants from the REALTOR® Party.”
With the bond approved, construction is expected to begin on the new schools and additions later this year, and the future school sites are secured. Looking ahead, BRR will be focused on other concerns of a growing population, such as improvements to transportation infrastructure, affordable work force housing, and Smart Growth. Meanwhile, things are looking up for the students and staff of the West Ada County school district, their communities, families shopping for housing in the area, and the REALTORS® who help them.
To learn more about how Boise Regional REALTORS® are using REALTOR® Party resources to help local school districts meet the demands of a growing student population, contact Soren Dorius, Director of Government Affairs, at 208-800-8823.