Knowing What Matters: An Expanded Study of School Bond Elections in Michigan, 1998–2006


This study investigates what factors are associated with the likelihood of passing school facility construction bonds by local district election. It uses statewide data from Michigan, 1998–2006, to examine the outcome of 789 bond elections in terms of the following ten variables: amount of the bond request; district enrollment; district locale; percentage of students receiving free school lunches; percentage of the district population with only a high school degree; the district's long-term debt; voter turnout; the day of the calendar year on which the election is held; the number of the bond proposal on the ballot; and the inclusion of technology in the ballot proposal's wording. The logistic regression analysis finds that bond amount—percentage of students receiving free lunches, percentage of district population with only a high school degree, voter turnout, and being further down on the ballot—are all negative and significant factors. District long-term debt and holding the election later in the calendar year are both positive and significant factors. District enrollment numbers are non-significant. In terms of district locale—using mid-sized city and suburban districts as the reference group—being a small town and rural district is a negative and significant factor.