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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

We've all heard that Verizon commercial over and over. Instant communication virtually anywhere in the world is widespread among cell phone and Internet access computer users. I could even phone my son in Mongolia (serving in the Peace Corps) right now.

The clutter and "noise" of so many far reaching forms of communication makes it difficult to get your message across if you are a business. (Heatly is a business. All schools are. Schools are often the largest employer in many towns, with the biggest budget...) I've read that between innumerable radio stations, hundreds of television stations, myriad print periodicals, and an unlimited amount of news oriented websites, businesses are compelled to expand the breadth and increase the frequency of their commercials/messages far more than they had been accustomed to in years past. Schools are no different.

Long gone is the school that relies solely on printed newsletters stuffed in backpacks to share news and information between school and home. Schools not only need to adopt more and different streams of communication to insure that they reach the desired audience, but the audience has understandably widened as well. Roughly 1/4 of all of the adults in a community have children attending public schools. Either they do not have children, have children who aren't school age, or send their children to private or parochial schools (or home school them). That means that the majority of people who are eligible to vote on a school budget are not directly affiliated with the school. If schools expect these people to exercise informed choices during the budget vote then it is imperative that schools reach out to the whole community.

We offer a traditional print newsletter that is sent out four times each school year. This allows us to convey information through a hard copy. We often supplement these quarterly notices with additional printed notes whenever necessary to inform the community.

We maintain a district sponsored website that is user friendly and accessible, with many links to important resources. In fact, we are continually adding articles on school finance issues and information related to the new cap on TAX APPROVED LEVY (not tax rate!!!). You can find all sorts of interesting stories and reports about our school district. There are links to a variety of other sources you may find interesting.

We provide a quick broadcast of significant news through our School News Notifier system that instantly sends information on school closings and other timely and urgent matters to the email addresses and cell phones of those who have signed up for the free service.

We now have a Facebook account featuring the school district. This site is frequently updated and provides pictures of different school related events.

In addition, I have started a twitter account that enables me to volunteer quick and short messages and updates.

Finally, I try to write an entry post on this Blog on a regular basis throughout the school year. This opportunity gives me a chance to extend information, opinions, and observations in greater depth than normal communication pieces.

This all adds up to the question posed in the title of this Blog entry -

Can you hear me now?

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