Cooperative Middle School in New Hampshire was facing overcrowding and outdated facilities that were adversely impacting the school’s teaching and learning.
Despite being constructed in the late 1990s, the teaching philosophy for middle school had changed, and there had been an increase in the number of students whose needs were not being met by the existing facility—rendering it obsolete and insufficient for the school’s curriculum and student population.
The school had tried in two previous years to pass a bond article for a school expansion and renewal project, but it had failed at the ballot box. In 2019, the district again put forth to voters a bond article—this time hiring JGPR to develop a communications strategy for the project.
Four months ahead of the April vote, JGPR put together a comprehensive strategy that included a website with full documentation of the project, a series of public meetings in the towns that would see a tax increase for the project, assistance with talking points and presentation materials for meetings, and ongoing news releases about the needs of the school and the positive impact the construction project would have.
Working with Cooperative Middle School staff, the JGPR team helped CMS identify their key project messages, turning them into precise statements about the project for the website that the public would be able to immediately understand. In addition a photographer took compelling photos of the spaces in need of an update, capturing the cramped nature in the current school layout. The JGPR team combed the project for possible questions the public could have, and made sure to address those up front on the project website.
To ensure that all members of the community knew about the proposal and had a chance to voice an opinion, the JGPR team worked with CMS staff to organize in-depth presentations in all of the towns served by the SAU 16.
JGPR stayed in almost daily communication with SAU 16, with three JGPR staff members dedicated to supporting the initiative. In April 2019 the bond article passed in all of the impacted communities.