Re-1 communication methods may be evaluated |

Re-1 communication methods may be evaluated

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A state organization that advises public school boards may be enlisted to do an audit of the Roaring Fork School District Re-1’s communications methods.

Recently, the Re-1 Board of Education heard a proposal from the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) to conduct an evaluation of communications within the district.

The audit would address both internal communications with district staff, and external communications with the general public.

“We will offer recommendations that will result in a more strategic and effective communications program that builds trust in and support for the school district,” reads the proposal, presented by Jennifer Reeve, assistant to the executive director of CASB.

With that, according to the proposal, the school district can:

• Build upon successful methods of communication and eliminate those that don’t work;

• Anticipate issues and proactively address them.

• Develop uniform messages.

• Effectively reach and build trust among district staff, parents and taxpayers.

• Promote the district’s accomplishments and student achievement initiatives.

“This is something that we’ve needed for a long time,” Re-1 school board member Bill Lamont said. “We tend to get off kilter with our communication, especially whenever there is a crisis.”

One recent example was the decision earlier this year to dismiss a popular principal at Glenwood Springs Elementary School, Sonya Hemmen.

Two years ago, an administrative decision to disallow teachers in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt schools from broadcasting a televised speech by President Barack Obama directed at school children also led to public criticism. A new district policy related to political speeches in schools was crafted as a result.

One question for the Re-1 board to consider is how to pay the estimated $14,700 cost to do the audit. “It would have to be paid for aside from district funds,” Lamont said. “So, we will have to raise the money. We’re already looking at some possible grant options.”

The work would involve arranging meetings with different focus groups within the school district, including teachers, staff, principals, parents and citizens at large in each of the three Re-1 communities.

Because Re-1 is preparing to propose a mill levy override question to put to voters this fall, the communications audit would likely have to wait until after the Nov. 1 election, Lamont said.

“We don’t want to have people locked in to two major projects at the same time,” he said.

But, the school board also committed itself to improving communications within the district when it renewed the contract of Re-1 Superintendent Judy Haptonstall in May.

“I think it’s exciting,” Lamont said of the audit proposal. “It’s something that probably would have helped years ago, if we had such a strategy in place.”

The Re-1 school board is expected to discuss how to proceed with the CASB proposal when it meets again on Aug. 10.

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