School bond issuance: a brief timeline

Testimonial from Director of Operations at Derby Public Schools USD 260

Cooper Elementary, Derby Public Schools

Even seasoned school district administrators can misjudge the timeline of the issuance of a school bond. With state processes to adhere to, elections to be mindful of, and months of planning, it can start to feel overwhelming fast. Especially since there’s still the day-to-day business of overseeing the school district! Across McCownGordon Construction’s offices, our K-12 Education Construction team supports 10-15 bond programs for schools each year. With this expertise, we know how to keep a school bond campaign on track.

The benefit we bring to the community while involved in bond programs is our ability to present ideas from the beginning on how to save money throughout the course of the project. We also are able to educate the public about the bond, without pushing it on them. 

Better quality schools are an economic engine for a community. The schools are one of the top factors any family considers when they’re relocating, and it’s one businesses consider for their employees when they’re opening as well. 

Know when to have a school bond election

Because all school bond programs have to be approved by the voters, they first must make it on the ballot. Most often, school districts opt to place their bond issue on the ballot of a spring election, rather than a larger November election. November elections tend to be more contentious, and schools want to avoid anything that could politicize their bond issue. Expect a bond issue to do best when it’s on the ballot between February or April, or sometimes August or September.

You can never start too early

One of the most important parts of making sure a school bond issue passes is ensuring the district is armed with the best information about their project. This requires a facility assessment and master plan. These can take anywhere from 9 to 12 months. School districts need to understand they’re in for a lengthy process when initiating a school bond program.

When we are working on school bond issues with a client, we recommend the stakeholders have everything in place 8 to 12 weeks before the election. Knowing the election for the bond issue will likely be between February or April, everything should be in place by the end of the year prior. Of course, legal advisors will be able to ensure state approval processes are met in a timely manner depending upon where the project is located.

General timeline

With all of that in mind, here’s a high level overview of a school bond issue timeline.

  1. First, begin a facility assessment and master plan for your proposed capital improvements by engaging partners, primarily an architect experienced in school buildings, to help.
  2. Bring in financial advisors to add their expertise in what the district needs as well as what is financially feasible for the community.
  3. Bring in the legal team to help facilitate processes in coordination with the state.
  4. When the district begins to understand the scope, bring in the construction team for valuable expertise and begin community engagement to drum up support for the bond issue. A lack of community support is often what causes bond issues to fail.
  5. The process of gathering community support and finalizing plans should be expected to take about a year from the point of first engaging partners. 
  6. If the bond issue passes, depending on where you are in the process, construction could begin as quickly as the next day. When we do bond programs, it’s always a fast transition from planning to construction. 

Get started with McCownGordon 

Our customer-focused mentality has always set us apart. Put us to work on your school bond project and we will outperform your highest expectations. We are dedicated to providing service with integrity and value the relationships we build along the way. Just take a look at work we’ve already done and imagine what we can do for you! 

With three regional offices in Kansas City, Manhattan, and Wichita, we make it easy to get high quality construction management services in the Midwest. Call us at 888-304-4929 or use our free online quote tool to get started today.