Paso school district utilizes social media
Changes in how our culture disseminates messages has caused the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District to change, or at least modify, how it communicates with parents, students, employees and the community at large. One way that Superintendent Chris Williams is doing that is via Facebook and Twitter.
When he told a group of leadership students he meets with monthly that he was going to start a Facebook page, they told him, “don’t you know Facebook is for old people.” So he started a Twitter account for himself as superintendent about a month ago. As of April 16, the district’s Twitter account has 89 followers and the Facebook page has 315 likes. Williams’ Twitter account currently has 267 followers.
The social media accounts are only one piece of the communication picture for the district. While a group of parents wrote a communication plan a year and a half ago with employees, Williams said, it was never put in place. Williams took over as superintendent for this school year and has been spearheading the refinement and implementation of such a plan. The plan has been discussed with the school board and is expected to return to the board at a meeting between May and October, Williams said.
Part of that plan is determining how teachers and the administration will get messages to parents, employees, students and community members. Some messages need to go to everyone, while others are more targeted. Some people prefer text messages over anything else; maybe it’s emails, or maybe it’s neither. With the different ways people are able, and prefer, to be reached, the district employs a range of strategies to reach their target. Many changes, Williams said, are yet to come as the district refines and implements its communication plan.
Another part of it is to make the school board agendas digital. Not just a PDF, but searchable so a person doesn’t have to sift through a thousand pages for the only page the topic he or she is interested in is on.
“It’s pushing the envelope to be more electronically savvy,” Williams said, adding that this new program for board agendas will roll out for its next meeting on Tuesday, April 28 at 6 p.m.
Instead of staff printing out numerous agenda packets that could easily be more than a thousand pages long, it will all be accessible via the district’s website at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting. Williams said that the agendas will be available by 3 p.m. the Friday before the meeting. Williams said that the digital agendas will easily save two to three days of staff time. On the flip side, however, he said there could be issues if there any problems with the WiFi. Every person that wishes to access the agenda at the meeting will need some sort of device from a Smartphone or tablet to a laptop. Board members will be given the option to bring his or her own handheld device or to use one of the district’s computers. Williams said he uses a Surface Pro.
One benefit of using the digital program is that if any changes need to be made, the author can authorize the changes and notifications be sent out to the board members notifying them of the changes. Williams said board members will also be able to add their own notes and questions to the items to have on-hand at the meeting. Additionally, related items from the past will be more accessible.