When you go to your polling place next week, there may be an issue on the ballot that will have more immediate impact on your community than any national or statewide race. That issue may be a school levy. One of the strongest experiences I had growing up was watching my community come together to ensure that the Seneca East School District levy passed.

I was an 8th grader and everything I had been hoping for out of my high school experience was on the line because of the levy. If the levy failed, there would be no band, pay-to-play athletics, and a number of other reductions that would put my high school dreams up in smoke.  

For months leading up to election day, the parents of our community rallied. They had tough conversations with people whose kids were grown and didn’t have a vested interest in the schools anymore. They talked at public forums about the opportunities we would miss if the appropriate funding wasn’t available.

As students we got involved, too. We made and put out levy signs. I remember a few conversations I had with people on the fence, mostly empty nesters. I had them tell me about memories they had of their kids when they were in high school. They would tell me about their son who played on the football team or their daughter who was in the school musical. I begged them not to take that away from us – from me.

The night before the election I prayed that the levy would pass. I visualized myself on the football field playing in the marching band. Running track. On stage in the school musical. And I prayed that the hard work and the case the community made for it’s children would lead to victory.

The levy passed. I don’t remember by how much – it might have been a landslide, and it might have been a close call. All that mattered to me was that I would get to continue on the path that I had been dreaming about.  

Small Town Leadership Lesson – Things worth fighting for are worth having a conversation about. There was no social media or internet to rely on when the levy was on the ballot. We had to talk directly to voters about the implication of their vote on our community. If you are facing this vote in your community this November or beyond, talk to and think of those affected. I never took the experiences I had in school for granted knowing how hard the community worked to ensure I had the opportunities I did.

Natalie

Natalie

Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

3 Comments

  • Cindy Kane says:

    I am over here in small town Wisconsin. Our school district passed a referendum last spring. It was a time for the community to listen to presentations by school administration. It was a time to call up neighbors to make sure they knew about the issues. The community affirmed that they value education. Someone supported public education for me, and I am proud that it was now my turn to support public education for others. With less state support for public education, more and more school districts are going to referendum to increase revenue, not just for building projects, but for operational costs as well. Statewide in WI, currently, 77% of the referenda have passed. The people of WI have spoken. They value education for all!

  • […] up in a small town made it easy to be involved in local politics. I helped with my first school levy when I was in 8th grade and continued to cover local government as a newspaper stringer in high […]

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