Effective, two-way communication is essential in school districts for many reasons, from keeping parents and families updated on the latest information to complying with federal laws. Schools experience a number of benefits from having a strategic communication plan in place, and improving community relations within the district is one of the most significant. This article highlights how a detailed school communication plan (and the right vendor partner) can help improve community relations within districts.
Improving Community Perception
Developing a consistent voice and standard messaging helps improve community relations within school districts. A communication plan with standardized guidelines and templates helps unify messaging across departments to ensure all communications are compliant and conducted in line with district policy. A school communication plan should outline district protocol for parent and family emergency notifications in the event of a school crisis.
Bridging the parent-school communication gap also helps school systems improve community relations within the district. Parents and families can benefit from frequent, timely communications that keep them informed on the latest happenings in the district. When parents are engaged in academics, student performance improves. Studies show positive parent-school relationships improve the community’s perception of the school as well.
Aligning with Modern Preferences
A school communication plan that incorporates a digital solution help districts align with parent and family communication preferences. Research by Project Tomorrow revealed 95 percent of parents have a smartphone and prefer mobile-friendly forms of communication. A digital solution such as ActivityRight provides parents and families with convenient, instantaneous access to all school communications (as well as forms and payments) from a mobile device.
In addition to modernizing communications, many schools launch initiatives to reduce paper use in an effort to go green and reduce waste. Currently, more than 40% of school waste is paper. Working digital communications into the school communication plan helps districts to be more eco-friendly and improve community perception in the process.
Choosing the Right Vendor Partner
The right software provider can support a school communication plan effectively. However, many schools today struggle with numerous software startups that have tried (and ultimately failed) to solve communication issues for different departments across districts. Startups simply do not have the experience necessary to account for the district’s holistic needs in terms of giving agency to teachers while mitigating legal and financial risk at the district level.
In an increasingly diverse district, civil rights of Limited English Proficient families should also be taken into account in school communication plans. U.S. civil rights laws require that notifications be sent in a language that parents understand, and their are complex requirements to how those notices should be translated. For example, using Google Translate or parent volunteers for translation of official communications opens the district to severe legal risk. Additionally, federal regulations specify more than 200 places where parent notifications, forms, and letters are required. Communicating important services related to Title I, Title III, IDEA, Section 504, McKinney Vento, and other special services is costly from a risk, human capital, and translation perspective.
School districts need a communications software provider that can help liberate teachers and reduce the burden that point solutions cause IT and other departments, while also taking school-specific needs into account. ActivityRight is a parent engagement platform that helps districts manage the challenges associated with digital communications, while also aligning with modern preferences and effectively improving community relations.