ISD 279 – OSSEO AREA SCHOOLS
Design Building for the Future
ISD 279 – Osseo Area Schools is committed to continuously enhancing its educational offerings and facilities to ensure a bright future for its students. So, when a community task force identified the need for additional funding to uphold its values, the district began planning a data-driven informational referendum campaign. In collaboration with CEL Marketing PR Design, Osseo launched a two-phased Building a Better Future campaign with goals of ensuring informed voters and increasing election participation.
In November 2022, Osseo Area Schools successfully passed the first phase, “The Future is in Our Classrooms,” with a two-question referendum for operating and technology revenue. The campaign earned an NSPRA Gold Medallion — the highest achievement for school communication programs.
"This has been one of the best processes that I have been a part of. Way to go!"
~KAY VILLELLA, APR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF SCHOOL/COMMUNITY RELATIONS
Success: Phase I & II Building a Better Future
Phase I = PASS (Q1 54.43% Q2 50.21%)
Phase II = PASS (61.36%)
Success in 2022 led to a 2023 Phase II bond referendum campaign, “Equip Students for Tomorrow” focused on improving the district’s school building needs.
• Secure learning environments with enhanced safety.
• Spaces for math, science and career programs, specialized learning services and growing student populations.
• Access to similar learning experiences at all district schools, including program opportunities, class size levels and the functionality of spaces.
• New elementary school site for expanding growth.
Careful, Extensive Planning and Preparation
Every referendum demands meticulous planning, so preparations commenced a year before Election Day for Phase I. A comprehensive strategy guided the team through Phase I and II, effectively keeping the campaign on course and even ahead of schedule. The multi-channel strategy and timeline included messaging, graphics, videos, social media templates, website landing pages, fact sheets, signage, and more. Additionally, it accounted for deployment dates, community meetings, and regular progress check-ins.
A focus strategy was to position the Osseo Area Schools website and social media channels as the definitive source of referendum information. Consequently, contingency plans including preparing Phase I success or defeat messaging to flow into the Phase II campaign, primed for immediate publication with Phase I voting results. The pages were crafted, containing essential information, targeted focus points, and interactive pop-ups to engage and inform our audience effectively.
Equity in Action: Translations and ADA Compliance
Ensuring that the campaign’s messages reached every family in their native languages was a priority. The team collaborated closely with the district’s cultural liaisons to accurately translate printed, digital, and video materials. Translations went beyond the words; the messages were written to translate the same meaning and tone across five languages: English, Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese, and Hmong.
Osseo’s commitment to creating an inclusive online experience extended far beyond translations. From an ADA-compliant color scheme to reader-friendly content tailored for e-readers, every facet of the campaign’s digital strategy was optimized for inclusivity. Moreover, their responsive, mobile-friendly design further enhanced the user experience, making it accessible on a variety of devices.
Preparing School Staff with Factual Information
School staff are often approached with questions about a referendum, so we set an objective to have 95% of staff understand their role as a communicator, and be prepared to share accurate information. This strategy included holding meetings about the referendum and distributing badge cards with frequently asked questions, talking points, and a QR code to the campaign website.
Data-Based Decision Making
The success of this campaign hinged on its ability to reach potential voters, making the digital strategy a pivotal component. The team maintained a watchful eye on website performance, constantly analyzing data to fine-tune SEO and keyword strategies. Moreover, QR code tracking identified the origins of our incoming traffic and gauged audience engagement following differing events. During evaluation Phase I data informed Phase II activities.
Facebook and Google advertising were also used to increase reach and engage stakeholders. These efforts, coupled with the data derived from website traffic, impressions, and interactions, enabled the team to make informed decisions for adapting the digital strategy as the campaign progressed.
Uniting Communities through Graphic Design
The central graphic of the Building a Better Future campaign featured a flag, skillfully intertwining the distinctive branding elements of the District’s high school feeder areas with the overarching district brand. The objective was to unite each area’s unique character as part of the larger, cohesive district.
This design element served to emphasize the diverse yet interconnected relationship of the district’s schools.
The Role of Graphics and Messaging in Voting Strategy
With overarching goals of making sure voters were fully informed and motivating early voting, a multi-channel campaign strategy included, print, digital and face-to-face tactics. With repetition and consistency, the Osseo Area School District was successful at increasing voter turn-out.
Unifying sometimes divided communities under common key messages was a major part of this campaign, but we also needed to tailor information to impact individual schools. Each school was given a toolkit specific to their brand and key information. This included cluster fliers and impact statements specifically outlining what the building and equipment plans and associated investments in each site.
Celebrating Referendum Successes
The successful passage of the 2022 AND 2023 referendums, complemented by a prestigious NSPRA Gold Medallion, exemplifies the district’s dedication to continuous improvements for students and learning. Through meticulous planning, equitable access, data-driven decision-making, and creative graphic design, Osseo Area Schools not only achieved its goals but also set a strong foundation for the future. This campaign captures the district’s mission to ensure a brighter and more inclusive educational environment for all.