Officials at Madison-Plains Local Schools want to strengthen ties to the community via social media, events and the district web site.
Newly hired Superintendent Chad Eisler told board of education members on July 24 that he wants to “raise some dialogue (about) where things stand in the district” as part of an updated strategic plan for the schools. The most recent strategic plan was developed in 2016.
A key element of that revised plan is communication to attract and retain staff and students and increase support for athletic teams and other extra curriculars.
Board member Cory Coburn said the district web site needs constant updating and staff needs to make use of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat to alert the community of significant events in the schools.
“We need someone to take responsibility for the updates,” said treasurer Todd Mustain.
Currently, no one serves in that function.
Mustain noted the current web site is not “user friendly” and may require someone with special skills to handle postings.
Eisler suggested paying a stipend to a current staff member or hiring a public relations expert to post items to the web and integrate social media.
Board member Tula Xenikis also suggested regular submissions to The Madison Press and Madison Messenger by administrators and staff to keep locals abreast of school activities and achievements. She said those submissions could be letters to the editor or columns.
The matter was referred to the district communications committee to develop a plan. That committee meets on Aug. 6.
Staff retention is another goal of the revised strategic plan. Hiring and retaining teachers is an ongoing problem in the district.
While salaries tend to be low, benefits at Madison-Plains are better than average, Mustain noted.
Several board members voiced suggestions to help publicize the benefits advantage. They also expressed ideas to help with recruitment and retention. Those suggestions included exit interviews for staff members who leave, participation in job fairs and providing incentives for teachers who do a good job.
Also on July 24, board members reviewed budgeted permanent improvements within the district for the current fiscal year.
Mustain noted carry over in the permanent improvement fund is shrinking yearly. Carry over from the 2018 fiscal year was $207,955. He projects by the end of the 2019 fiscal year that number will be $154,682.
Coburn questioned the lack of technology upgrades in the proposed budget. He noted technology within the district is aging. School servers are 9 years old.
“We need to look at an overall plan (to update technology),” he said.
Board member Bob Butz said money budgeted for items like furniture could be re-allocated to technology and similar pressing needs.
“What else do we want to put on rotation?” Eisler asked board members.
The next Madison-Plains school board meeting is 7 p.m. on Aug. 29.