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If communication is key, who are the key communicators?

February 3, 2010

I was recently at a meeting with several Saline Area School parents discussing communication.  We were discussing the ways in which we (SAS) communicate with families and the community.  The group entertained the idea of developing a team of “key communicators” to meet with, discuss issues, get feedback, etc.  with administrators.  As we talked about “who” these “key communicators” are, it became more complex.

We realized that over the last several years, Saline has changed.  For example, the president of the bank, publisher of the local newspaper, executive director of the hospital, etc.  don’t necessarily live and raise their families in Saline.  In the not so distant past, most if not all key community leaders focused their work, family and social lives around Saline.  Now, it is common to consider the Ann Arbor region as the area within which the “key communicators” might work and pursue their social interests.

So, how do we communicate to a broad cross-section of the community?  Is it possible to assemble a workable sized group to represent the many diverse opinions within our community?

This is a question we are working to answer so that we can better communicate what is happening in and around Saline Area Schools.  The timing is critical.  We need engaged residents to provide insight and feedback as we work through challenging budget issues, as well as, develop and refine the instructional focus for the next three to five years.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Tammie Wotton permalink
    February 4, 2010 11:43 pm

    Scot, is this function not something which is covered at least in part by the DPC members (Presidents or their deputies from the PTA/O’s)? They represent the parents of their associated schools and presumably can and should canvass opinions from those families in order to represent them at the monthly meetings.

  2. February 5, 2010 7:29 am

    The DPC is a good example of a functioning “key communicators” group. One thing that was mentioned was to make sure at meetings like the DPC to talk more directly about ideas/issues that the district needs feedback from the community. Then, ask the group to provide feedback along with “spreading the word” about the idea/issue.

    We are also looking to develop a broader group – one that includes community members who may not currently have children in the system.

  3. Kelly Saiya-Cork permalink
    February 5, 2010 7:26 pm

    It is true that we no longer have a functional free press here or just about anywhere in the USA in the year 2010. Technology has been quick to remove the old local newspaper system yet slow to fill in the gap.

    The PTA is an important key communicator, but it is biased as it is pro-student, as it should be. Blogs, like this one, are good sources. But, the blog also is suspect to being biased towards the school administrators. Union websites, blogs and their newsletters face the same difficults.

    We currently have a gap in our free-press system. It is this gap that can allow administrators and keyholders to critical community services to operate under a cloak of secrecy. I agree the gap must be filled by a non-biased third party. While we wait for the next enterprising individual to fill this gap, we must hold ourselves and our leaders to high ethical standards.

    Thanks for bringing this subject to the forefront Scott. Now, what new developments are occurring with the budget crisis?

  4. February 6, 2010 9:15 am

    The next steps in dealing with the budget deficit for this year involve wage and benefit concessions from our administrative staff. Unfortunately, we will be recommending mid-year staff reductions as well. Both will occur at the next Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, February 9th.

  5. Kelly Saiya-Cork permalink
    February 6, 2010 11:22 am

    Do the recommendations include reduction in pay for employees currently working, or a reduction in the number of employees who work for SAS, or both?

    Will a recommendation for voluntary reductions by staff earning a six figure salary be given to the board?

    Will a recommendation for voluntary reductions by staff earning a six figure salary be given to the board?

    Obviously at this late hour in the budget process, some things have been taken off the table, as is expected if progress has been made.

  6. February 6, 2010 1:31 pm

    The concessions that have been negotiated with the administrators call for pay reductions. If approved by the Board of Education they will save $57,000 over the next 17 months.

    Some the administrators impacted by the proposed reductions do earn six figure salaries.

  7. February 6, 2010 10:29 pm

    Will there be any wage and benefit concessions by the teaching staff?
    It seems that money could be saved by reducing the bussing of students who live within close proximity to the schools. Will there be any changes recommended to current bussing?

  8. February 7, 2010 4:38 pm

    For the meeting on Tuesday, the only action related to wage & benefit concessions will be related to administrative staff.

    We are currently looking at options for savings in transportation for next year – including walking radius options. We don’t have any recommendations for the current year. We have already taken transportation savings/reductions related to gas and equipment.

  9. February 7, 2010 6:05 pm

    Why aren’t wage and benefit reductions for teaching staff included in the upcoming recommendations for reducing the budget deficit?

  10. February 8, 2010 3:23 pm

    We have a collective bargaining agreement with our teaching staff that defines wages and benefits that runs through the 2011-12. We have had conversations with all groups about the current budget deficit and I anticipate further conversations with each group in the future.

  11. Kelly Saiya-Cork permalink
    February 8, 2010 9:45 pm

    In terms of communication, what is being done to ensure that every student is present or receives a qualifying note for “Count Day”.

    Every student must be counted to receive their share of state funds. As a SAS parent, I have not received any notice this year of when “Count Day” will be this year.

    Communicating this important school day surely can help lessen our budget deficeit.

  12. February 8, 2010 10:36 pm

    There is actually a 10 day window of time where students can be claimed if they happen to be absent on “count day”. Basically, if a student is enrolled prior to count day but does not attend on that day – as long as they attend within the next 10 school days they can be counted.

    With that said, strong attendance on count day does cut down on staff time accounting for students as they return to school.

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