The campaign committee for the Washington School District's Prop I - Invest in Kids, Build Their Future ballot initiative met last Thursday to discuss its strategy in promoting the issue.

The $65 million bond issue with a 46-cent property tax increase will be decided by voters in the April 3, 2012, election.

If approved, the district will build new facilities, make renovations and improve technology districtwide.

About 30 people attended the Citizens for Great Schools Committee meeting, held at the Bank of Washington.

According to Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer, the full group met and then break-out sessions were held with each subcommittee.

Co-Chairmen Brad Mitchell and John Freitag met with the speaker's bureau committee, while other subcommittees met. Each group gave reports and received input from others at the end of the meeting.

Items discussed included how to advertise and communicate the issues, employee, parent and community outreach, and fundraising.

The full committee will meet again Thursday, Jan. 26.

"We have an exemplary group of passionate people working to educate and assist the public in learning more about Proposition I," Freitag told The Missourian.

"The committee looks forward to our continued efforts as we feel the students and community deserve quality learning environments," he said. "Personally, my eyes were opened to the needs of the school district through my participation in the district's Focus Group 2."

Freitag said information discussed in Focus Group 2, which met this past year and focused on long-range needs, helped him to understand the issues, costs and solutions.

"I feel that this plan addresses the needs of the school district now and well into the future," he said. "This is the best option we can put on the table and we ask everyone to get informed."

Mitchell said he's very excited to be part of the campaign committee, and echoed his co-chair's comments that the plan will solve many issues the district is facing.

"I believe every child is deserving of a quality education and a quality learning environment," he said. "The passing of this bond issue will go a long way to ensuring that. We all would agree that food, clothing and shelter are necessities. I would add education to that list as well."

Mitchell said Washington is a community with many assets, and in his opinion one of the most valuable is the Washington School District.

"The passing of Prop I will not only be an investment in the Washington School District, but it is an investment in the community," he added.

Information on Web

VanLeer said a Q & A (question and answer) on the ballot initiative and an informational video on Prop I is now on the district's website.

"The video is 14.5 minutes long and covers Proposition I in great detail," she said. "We hope people will take the time to educate themselves about the issue."

The district has just launched its new website design which now features a newsfeed that changes frequently. Additionally, quick links are located to the right of the home page and the district's Stay Connected section allows people to follow the school district via social media like Facebook and Twitter.

"We are very pleased to have multiple ways to communicate with the public," she said.

Plan Details

If approved, the $65 million bond issue and 46-cent property tax increase will allow the district to build a new middle school, serving sixth, seventh and eighth grades, and a new elementary school, for kindergarten through fifth grade, on property it owns off Highway 100, near St. John's Road.

The district also plans to construct a new early childhood center which would house Parents as Teachers, all in-town preschools and early childhood special education on the Washington West Elementary campus. Improvement to the Washington West parking lot also is part of the plan.

Additionally, the district will renovate its existing Technology and Learning Center off Highway 47 for an alternative education center.

Other improvements are planned districtwide, including upgrading technology and adding computer labs.

The district plans to phase-in the 46-cent property tax increase over three years - 2013, 2014 and 2015, so patrons will not feel the full impact immediately.