Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Poster Paper: Does Debt Make a Difference: A Study of the Effect of School District Indebtedness on School Bond Election Outcomes

Saturday, November 14, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Laura Jackson, University of Texas at Dallas
As the Tea Party movement has developed in the United States, one issue that has garnered increased attention is concern over debt, from the national to the local level.  This enhanced sensitivity to debt could significantly affect public schools because the primary method through which school districts can build and/or update facilities is through voter-approved bonds, a method of financing that could prove problematic if voters are debt-averse or they reach their desired limit for debt and the district still needs more buildings. This paper will investigate the relationship between a school district’s current indebtedness and bond election outcomes.  Preliminary analyses indicate a positive relationship between amount of debt and school bond passage, leading one to believe that voters in certain districts have a greater tolerance for debt regardless of amount.  However, I hypothesize that upon further investigation we will find the relationship is curvilinear and that there is point at which voters will refuse to issue more debt to school districts.  This information is important for practitioners, like school board members, as they attempt to fulfill their public service obligations.