Sign of the Times? School Board/District Asked to Use Social Media to Engage with Community

An interesting idea was addressed to the Snoqualmie Valley School Board at the March 28, 2013, meeting – one with big social implications.boardpicture2012-13

Snoqualmie resident and mother of a 2-year old, Alaina Brubaker, during a board conversation about organizing focus group meetings for the upcoming 2013 school bond, asked the board to consider using social media (and blogs like this one) to get information out about these meetings and the next school bond to people like herself – young parents without kids in the school system yet.

Through an email exchange, Alaina explained that like herself, most people she knows don’t have land phone lines. They use cell phones exclusively and many of those phone numbers are not Snoqualmie based.

She hopes the board and district would use social media to solicit information regarding the upcoming bond.  Her point was, if that information is solicited through, say, phone surveys, how would her demographic be reached? Young parents want to ensure their opinions are gathered regarding the next school bond; knowing how needed another elementary school is in a district with a multitude of young children nearing school age.

This Snoqualmie young parent demographic engages and gets information through social media and/or blogs.  Alaina described the majority of people she knows as using this blog to stay informed of community happenings.

As an administrator in the Lake Washington School District, she also knows firsthand the importance of using social media to communicate information to a school community.  Issaquah, Riverview, Bellevue, Lake Washington, Tahoma, Auburn are all neighboring school districts who use Facebook pages as an additional form of communication with their community.

There is good news for fans of social media, though. Coming later this spring (and right as the district gears up for an important school bond) the Snoqualmie Valley School District, will also join social media.

According to Carolyn Malcolm, SVSD Public Information Coordinator, the district will launch on Facebook and Twitter in late May/June, offering the community another way to connect with district happenings.

Will the SVSD school board follow suit with their own social media pages?  After all, other school boards around the nation do engage on social media, as well as it being discussed as a communication strategy during a February 2012 school board work session.

Board member Carolyn Simpson said she agreed with Alaina’s comment at last week’s board meeting.  Simpson added, “It is not uncommon for school boards to carefully utilize social media, but it is relatively new.”

Simpson and fellow board members will attend the National School Board Association Conference next week where Simpson will attend three classes on social media use, including topics on engaging the community with it, social media to help pass school bonds and the appropriate use of social media.

Simpson said she plans to take careful notes and share what she learns with the rest of the board, the administration and community.  She added, “Maybe I will even tweet and Facebook from the class!”

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