Danedri Thompson
Voter registration drives in each of the district’s eight schools in November were not related to USD 231’s $73 million bond issue, according to district  director of community relations Leann Northway.
The placards placed at most school offices, the signs reminding residents to register to vote and the class competitions that rewarded students for registering voters were to teach students  about citizenship.
“A voter registration campaign was held at each school to teach and inform students about citizenship, their United States Constitutional right to register and vote once they become of age and to encourage their parents to do the same,” Northway wrote in an email to the Gardner News.
Each month, schools throughout the district focus on a character trait. For example, in December, district staff highlighted caring and compassion. In January, they’ll focus on trustworthiness.
November’s character trait was citizenship, and the voter registration drive started on Nov. 7 and ended Dec. 16.
As part of the educational program, schools were given a list of registered voters in the district, and each school was given the percentage of registered voters in their building based on information from the Johnson County Election Office.
“The campaign’s objective was for each school to reach a goal of 75 percent registered voters in their specific building,” Northway said.
The students celebrated the campaign efforts with pizza and donuts, but no prizes were awarded.
Parents received letters from their child’s school principal relating information about the voter registration drive as well as voter registration forms in the mail.
“If you are not yet a registered voter, please take this opportunity to fill out the attached form, place it in a sealed envelope and return it to the school office,” Gardner Edgerton High School Principal Tim Brady wrote in the final paragraph of a letter to high school parents. “If you are already registered, please share the form with a relative, neighbor or friend.”
The letter never mentions that the campaign is part of character education. Instead, it lists the educational benefits of the district’s bond proposal.
“By now, I’m sure you are well aware Gardner Edgerton School District board of Education ahs approved placing a bond issue before the voters on Jan. 31, 2012 ballot,” the letter, dated Nov. 4, begins.
Northway said schools participate in “Kids Voting” during every presidential election and learn about democracy through a combination of classroom activities, family dialogue and an authentic voting experience. District newsletters have also periodically published register-to-vote public service announcements during presidential elections.
“It is commonplace for school districts to inform and encourage patrons to register to vote when a bond issue proposal has been approved and

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placed on the ballot,” Northway said.
USD 231 voters will be asked to approve a $73 million bond issue through a mail election. Ballots must be returned to the Johnson County Election Office no later than noon on Jan. 31.
For more information about the bond, the district’s website is www.usd231.com. A site created by a resident can be found
www.gardnerschoolbond.info. Voters can also search for “USD 231 Kids Come First” on Facebook.