Even with the 2014-15 school budget vote still six months away, the Iroquois School Board is focusing on how to improve the budget process.
The district will conduct at least three budget work sessions per year, increase signage, send out invitations to community groups and conduct an exit poll at every budget vote.
Superintendent Douglas Scofield said last week he hopes the initiatives bring out more voters.
“Our goal at the budget vote is to hear from the community. We don’t tell people how to vote, we just want them aware that there is a vote and to participate,” the superintendent said.
Scofield said he will also continue to speak to various groups, including the Kiwanis, senior citizens and church groups, and accept invitations from any other organizations, as well.
Just as with the last budget vote, four open budget work sessions are scheduled for January through March. Exit polls will be conducted for the third consecutive time in the district on voting day, May 20. The exit poll responses are shared with the School Board and, in the past, have helped shape decision-making, officials have said.
Over the years, voter participation in the district has fluctuated. For much of the last decade, turnout was about 1,700 out of a registered voting population of 13,000.
When the school budget failed by 100 votes in 2011, the district launched initiatives to improve turnout. Community residents encouraged voter turnout in public and on the web. The effort paid off with nearly 3,000, or 21 percent of registered voters, going to the polls in May 2012.
Even though that number shrank to about 1,800 voters last May, Iroquois’ 2013-14 budget easily passed.
Still, complacency can be dangerous, said officials, who noted that the day before Iroquois approved their outreach initiatives, the neighboring East Aurora School Board had a close call – seeing a $7.8 million capital project squeak through by just two votes.