Book Review

School Finance Elections

A Comprehensive Planning Model for Success

by Don E. Lifto and J. Bradford Senden, Rowman & Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., and AASA, 2010, 163 pp., 2nd edition, $85 hardcover, $34.95 softcover

Most superintendents are appointed, but they also likely will face the electorate with financing proposals that are essential to the needs of their school systems.

School Finance Elections

School Finance Elections
is a thorough guide to planning and successfully receiving voter approval of essential school funding initiatives. Don Lifto, a consultant with a national public finance advisory firm (and a former superintendent), and J. Bradford Senden, a survey preparation consultant, apply their experience and knowledge to provide simple checkpoints for electoral success.

School finance elections require the same research, clarity and messaging that every successful campaign in America needs. Each will require thoughtful research of the voter profile, assessment of community views, a clear plan for action and an effective, citizen-based campaign team that uses the latest communication tools.

Lifto and Senden accurately caution readers to exercise their local knowledge and judgment when planning an election. Their framework provides a practical checklist that school leaders will find useful in devising their next school finance election campaign. They suggest studying the voting history of the community, segmenting the voters, and communicating ethically and clearly. Changing election dynamics must be managed as more elections are conducted by mail, and campaigns are being waged in a social networking environment.

School leaders will find this synthesis of research and practical wisdom a wise read in advance of their next school finance election.

Reviewed by Brian L. Benzel, vice president for finance and administration, Whitworth University, Spokane, Wash.