School District Shifts from Split to Solidarity
2nd Vote Unified the Rutherford Community
A school funding vote in Rutherford, N.J., fractured the community as one vocally opposed faction attracted others. Discussions pitted neighbor against neighbor. Not only did the proposal fail by a wide margin, but the borough’s sense of community suffered a blow. District leadership was weary, but had to jump right back into the bond referendum arena; they were another year closer to running out of space for some grades.
LBC helped communicate a retooled proposal, find common ground, and motivate voters for a second referendum. We relied on the invaluable input of a citizens committee that brought opinions, feedback and context to the table. LBC became a key part of the team, rather than an outside consultant applying a one-approach-fits-all habit.
We framed all messaging around the theme of One Rutherford: a school district, a business community and a population base that all share the successes, benefits – and yes, the costs – of its schools.
The campaign solidified the community’s spirit with a “1R” logo that was seen around town as car magnets.
We also met our goals of relieving some of the time burden a communications campaign requires, and of applying our proven expertise to its development and follow-through.
In September 2019, Rutherford passed a bond referendum with nearly a 2-to-1 margin. The business administrator later commented that before LBC’s partnership, “We didn’t realize it, but we were flying blind.” Within weeks, the district began replacing its old logo with the unifying 1R logo.
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