6.1 Establish a communications strategy
+ Mitigate risk and sustain long-term progress through strategic communication with a broad coalition of internal and external supporters.
Identify Stakeholders: Identify those who are most impacted by SGS initiatives as well as those who can assist or impede the effort. Create specific strategies to engage with those two groups.
Community Engagement: Partner with community-based organizations and create regular engagement processes (Sublever 6.2) that provide a space for stakeholders to discuss district initiatives and a forum for the district to engage with stakeholders. Generally, the more regular these opportunities are, the better. Engaging with stakeholders only when something “big” happens can have a negative focusing effect of bringing multiple issues to the forefront if there are limited opportunities for community input. A regular forum will also create and reinforce communication and engagement norms in the district.
Strong and Consistent Narrative/Messaging: Develop a coherent, consistent message that reinforces the "what" of the SGS strategy and the "why" - outlining the benefits of the strategy for students and the community as a whole to backup the district’s actions. Build a coalition of supporters and use multiple avenues to reach the community.
Transparency: Communicate criteria for high-stakes decisions and develop a timeline for school opening and closure. The reasons for closure and the clarity of the districts’ plan for providing other options are critical. Districts must make the case for better school options for families impacted by closure.
Regular Progress Reporting: Report on improvement efforts with a consistent format and at regular intervals.
Continuous Improvement Cycle: Evaluate your communication strategy. What is the level of public confidence? Do stakeholders know what you’re doing and whether it’s successful?
+ Create champions from within the district: school staff have the most contact with families. Supportive leaders and teachers will help instill confidence in their school community members, who can then become ambassadors for the broader public.
Implement a plan to provide training for the central office and schools so that everyone in the district understands the SGS strategies and how they can be part of the SGS plan.
You know your communities best. Identify respected community leaders, community-based organizations, and faith-based organizations to communicate your strategy directly to families and other key stakeholders.