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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • EDITORIAL: Accurate, consistent communication is key to school district's success

  • Kids and their parents want to feel like they're in the loop.
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  • The Crookston School Board earlier this month endorsed a list of goals for the 2013-14 school year. A bullet point accompanying one of the three overall goals states that "school management" will "comprehensively investigate open enrollment numbers." Each day during the school year, you see, far more kids open enroll from Crookston to other, nearby districts than open enroll to Crookston from other nearby districts. The disparity costs the school district hundreds of thousands of dollars in state education funding every year.
    Therefore, it's an especially good bullet point, and efforts are underway to conduct such an investigation, as several school administrators and staff last week sought to contact each family that open enrolls to try to find out what the local school district could do to get their kids back.
    Granted, there are many reasons that so many kids open enroll from Crookston each day, mostly to Fisher. But it's a safe bet that every family in Crookston with at least one child of school age would appreciate it if their district communicated with them frequently. Parents and students like to feel like they're a part of something, which, in turn, gives them a sense of ownership in their district. They like to feel like their district leaders know their names and know their stories.
    That all goes back to communication. Yes, district leaders would probably be right when they say communication is a two-way street, but this is more about a school district reaching out to its people, who are educational consumers with the ability to shop around.
    Take, for instance, a critically important meeting took place earlier this month, the Pirate fall sports parent/athlete meeting. Coaches addressed their respective teams, and tons of information was disseminated. And yet the Times received no notice from the district about the meeting. When it became clear only a few short hours before the meeting that many parents were unaware of it, the district issued an "instant alert" message.
    Then, last week, the story was similar for the annual, also critically important Welcome Back to School Day. It's basically school registration day, so it's a pretty big day. And yet, again, the Times received no information on the meeting. An instant alert message went out about three hours before the 12-hour event came to an end, reminding district families that the event was taking place.
    Wouldn't you want to get the word out to the local newspaper about such events and activities? We have a "Community Calendar" that's published in each edition, and a little who, what, when, where and why information in that calendar goes a long way.
    If Community Calendar and instant alerts aren't enough, then maybe it's time to introduce a new-look and more functional school district website that's designed with simplicity and consumer convenience at at heart. The current site's been around for a long time now, and it takes a lot of clicks to find the information you're looking for, if you find it at all.
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