APS Department Management Plan

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1 Department: Department Overview/Narrative APS Department Management Plan School & Community Relations The School and Community Relations Department is responsible for media relations, community outreach, public information, the management and oversight of the school system s web site the APS School Talk service, the Volunteers and Partners in Education Programs, and Printing Services. The main priority of the department is to provide information to the community. Specifically, the department s primary focus is to enhance communications within the Arlington Public Schools system (internal) and between schools and the community (external). To address the Strategic Plan goal related to building effective relations, the department staff publishes informational brochures; publicizes news and activities about the schools and their programs; handles media inquiries; provides counsel and support to individual schools and programs to help them meet their communications objectives and enhance their community engagement efforts; offers a series of informational events designed to inform parents and citizens about the school system; helps families research and learn about the school system; manages the web site and School Talk services including coordination with the respective vendors; recruits Partners in Education and school volunteers; offers a variety of workshops to get parents more involved in their children s education; responds to Freedom of Information Act requests; and provides support to other departments as they work to engage the community and build effective relations with parents and the community so they know about and actively support the education of our students. The Print Shop provides high quality reproduction of printed materials for departments and programs located in the Education Center and in the schools. Major Services provided by School & Community Relations (SCR) Increase the availability of information about the school system to citizens via the Web site; Improve communication with internal audiences, and between Arlington Public Schools and the Arlington community; Provide support, counsel and training to schools and departments to assist them with communicating their programs and services to students, families and citizens in Arlington; Coordinate a series of informational events to successfully inform the Arlington community about their choices of educational opportunities; Continue to expand participation of volunteers as well as businesses, agencies and civic organizations in the Partners in Education Program; Improve communication between Arlington Public Schools and members of the Arlington community whose first language is not English; Work toward increasing the level of community engagement between the school system and the Arlington community; Provide quality publications in terms of informational content and design; Continue to provide information on admission/registration and school/instructional options to

2 families; Maintain a strong working relationship with real estate agents in the County; Expand and improve upon the scope of information available to citizens; and Maintain the Arlington Public Schools Web site with up to date information about the schools, departments and programs, curriculum and instruction, student demographics, current issues, general information, news, events and activities, along with information on School Board issues, meetings and policies. Provide a full service printing operation to the staff and programs at the Education Center and the schools SCR Accomplishments Superintendent s Entry Plan Support Chats, meetings, Admin. Conf. Presentation, published plan, web page etc. APS Snapshots Launched (new weekly programming) Coordinated Visits: Duncan (Aug.), Obama (Sept.), Duncan/Carlin Springs (Jan) APS School Talk expansion and growth; new vendor selected Latino Summit H1N1 Vaccination Campaign Launched APS Green/Environment Web Page Snow Learning Page and Snow Communications Initiatives FY 11 Budget Communications (Budget Updates, Community Forums, Survey, etc.) Developed a PowerPoint Framework for Senior Leadership Language Access Policy/PIP (with Department of Instruction; ESOL/HILT) Race and Ethnicity Reporting Change Communications and Staff Support Special Issues and Projects Support: Launch of myschoolbucks, Launch of ERO, VPI classes at Hoffman Boston NSPRA Awards: Gold Medallion for snow emergency communications; Golden Achievement for Superintendent s Entry Plan and H1N1 Countywide Vaccination Communications; Awards of Merit for the Parent Guidebooks and the Citizen; Honorable Mention for APS Snapshots: Early Identification Program. CHESPRA Awards: Awards of Excellence for NewsCheck and the Citizen; Honorable Mention for the Superintendent s Entry Plan, the 2008 School Bond Brochure and the Parent Guidebooks The number of businesses and organizations that Partner with APS schools and programs increased to 432, supporting 631 separate partnerships in schools. Among the APS partners, 146 have formalized their relationship with APS by signing formal agreements and becoming Strategic Partners Planned and coordinated successful dedication program and open house for the newlycompleted Washington Lee High School and Reed/Westover capital improvement projects Increased participation at APS events (e.g. College Night, parent information nights [HS, MS, Kin]

3 SCR Priorities APS Department Management Plan 2010 APS School Bond Materials and Support Communications Support for Development of the FY 2012 Budget Communications Support for Development of the FY Strategic Plan Key Communicator Network Develop a standard rubric and training to help implement a KCN Convert NewsCheck, employee newsletter, to a digital publication Implement and Improve Communications via APS School Talk Strengthen PR Liaison Network to ensure a minimum of five news updates are distributed for each school and program during the school year Strengthen School/Department Webmaster Network Develop district wide APS guidelines for web content and management to ensure best practices and to strengthen web communications Explore and develop Social Media Strategy guidelines Increase participation at APS events including Community Chats, Forums, Information Nights and other community events. Expand countywide training opportunities (e.g. Effective Communication Strategies, PR Liaisons, Webmasters) Participate in APQC teams (Registration and Familiy Medical Leave) to ensure effective processes to accomplish the work of APS SMART Goal 1: Key Communicator Network/Cultural Competence (Gladis/Linda) In an effort to strengthen communications with a broader and more diverse group of community leaders, in the school year, the School & Community Relations staff will work to develop a Key Communicator Network rubric and training model that will help school leaders to regularly access community leaders from all segments of the community with information about APS programs, issues and decisions. Rationale APS relies on community leaders to convey news and information about Arlington Public School, including news about new issues, programs, accomplishments or decisions. Best practices from the National School Public Relations Society lists Key Communicator Network programs as an effective strategy to facilitate regular communications with an organizations members. The network can enhance and strengthen efforts to invite feedback to the organization, and can serve as an early alert system to learn about misinformation and rumors so that the misinformation can be corrected among constituents. Establishing and maintaining regular two way communication with key communicators will help APS to hear about issues and concerns earlier so they can address these concerns in a timely manner. SCR will provide a one hour training session for all principals by the end of the school year. This will provide information so that principals can establish a Key

4 Communicator group for their school and provide the list of names/contacts to a central database in the school year. Who is Responsible for this Work: Linda Erdos, School & Community Relations Staff Create a rubric for schools and departments to develop their own Key Communicator Network. The rubric will include sample communications tools and guidelines for implementation of a Key Communicator Network. Provide training for school leaders to review the rubric. Develop database to record membership for school based networks. SMART Goal # 2: Increase Number of APS Strategic Partners (those with Signed Agreements) In the school year, APS will increase by 10% the number of community and business partners who officially sign agreements with APS, a school or department to support student achievement and success. Rationale APS relies on community organizations and businesses to assist with many of its strategic goals: o Rising Achievement & Eliminating the Gap through tutoring and homework helper programs that are developed with in the schools and use volunteers to assist. o Responsive Education by identifying businesses that can take student interns, o provide guest speakers and offer leadership opportunities for APS students. Effective Relationships by engaging community groups, churches, clubs, organizations, businesses and non profits and inviting them to participate in school activities. Best practices show that written agreements bind partnerships so that each party understands what is expected and what resources are needed. By increasing the number of written partnership agreements, schools can ensure the relationship continues beyond staff changes. A Partnership Agreement form was created in for schools to use as a model to put partnerships in writing. The Partnership Agreement form includes an area for partners to indicate which Strategic Goal they are supporting. Number of written agreements has risen from 26 in , to 146 in It is expected to increase by an additional 10% for a total of 160 in Who is Responsible for this Work: Kim Durand, Volunteer and Partnership Program Specialist

5 Meet with Principals to discuss the importance of Partnership Agreement Forms. Meet with partner organizations to discuss their partnership goals. Recognize the partnerships that have signed Partnership Agreements. SMART Goal 3: Training for Registrars and Office Staff on APS Registration and School Options During the school year, SCR will provide informational sessions to registrars and front office staff about APS school and program options, the registration and transfer application process, and a review of the informational resources available. Rationale: Efforts to increase staff understanding about the variety of school and program options available in APS will help to ensure that registration for all students follows a standard process and information provided to all families is complete. Increasing staff knowledge of the online resources and publications available will help them to better serve family and student needs because all staff will be able to be more responsive to families by providing uniform information in an accurate and timely way. Creating a forum to allow staff to share information, discuss problems, brainstorm on possible solutions and gather feedback on processes and best practices will support efforts throughout APS to increase service and responsiveness to the families we serve. Training will be provided for all representatives from all schools, programs and departments that interact with families and are responsible for providing service and support to families during the registration process. Attendance will include at least one representative from each APS school and program, where 100% of participants report that the training is informative and helpful, and that the training provided them with a greater understanding of APS school options and the transfer application process. Who is Responsible for this Work: Gladis Bourdouane, Public Information Specialist Schedule training dates and notify school registrars and front office staff as well as their supervisors. Multiple times/dates will be scheduled to provide flexibility and ensure that all staff can attend. Send invitations to appropriate staff to schedule their participation in either the elementary or secondary training sessions. Follow up with staff and supervisors as needed to ensure full participation. Survey participants before the training session to ascertain areas of interest and questions and issues. Develop training materials to include information about registration, school options, and review of APS publications, online resources and registration materials.

6 Survey all participants after training has been completed to determine participant satisfaction and to identify any continuing issues or concerns. Provide one on one support as needed during the registration process. SMART Goal 4: Increase # of news about each school/program In an effort to more effectively communicate news and information about APS with the Arlington community, during the school year, staff will work to ensure that we receive timely news from Public Relations Liaisons in individual schools, programs and departments. In support of this goal, SCR will endeavor to ensure that each school/program and department submits news items to publicize their work at least five (5) times per year, so that APS can maintain effective communications about that school, program or department with parents and the larger Arlington community. (News items can include written stories, publication of upcoming events and activities, ideas for local media stories, photos of newsworthy activities, video to post on the web, awards and recognitions, etc.) Rationale: Promoting the good news of the Arlington Public Schools helps build effective relationships with stakeholders. Receiving news from schools about upcoming events will allow for sufficient time for SCR staff to contact the media, send out news releases, or communicate that event or news item with Arlington parents, staff and the community. This not only builds effective relationships, but helps parents and community members take a more active role in supporting the education of students. APS depends primarily on locally generated revenue for its operating funds. However, less than 15% of all Arlington households include school aged children. Publicizing the strong instructional program and news about APS will help to maintain and strengthen the support of the entire community. By the end of the school year, each school or program will have will have been featured at least five (5) in the local media or through locally generated district communications (e.g., News Tips, news releases, APS Snapshots or AETV). Who is Responsible for this Work: Frank Bellavia, Public Relations Specialist, in collaboration with school Public Relations Liaisons Provide three training sessions throughout the school year for school based PR Liaisons Provide resources such as the PR Liaison Toolkit and best practices for telling news stories and taking photos and video Weekly calls and s to solicit ideas and generate news from schools and programs Track all news items that are released to local media outlets and sent to parents via APS School Talk (on average 150 are sent per year. The tracking report will include the number of news items included in NewsTips, APS news releases, Snapshots and The Citizen for each

7 school or program. Tracking reports status updates will be distributed to all PR Liaisons during the first week of November, February and May. Visit all schools during to support PR Liaisons and to help identify possible school events activities to be publicized. SMART Goal 5: Implementation of New Web Guidelines Within six months of approval of new District Website Guidelines, the District website and at least 50% (19 out of 38 total) of school sites will be in 100% compliance with overall district guidelines for style, content, templates, BlackBoard utilization, and accurate/up to date information. Rationale: It is important to bring all websites up to industry standards and to maintain consistency across the district. Completion of this effort will help to increase and improve APS visibility throughout the community and to strengthen the school district s public image. Survey of sites in June 2011 will be compared to survey taken in October 2010 to determine compliance rate. Within six months of approval of District Website Guidelines, the District website and at least 50% (19 out of 38 total) of school sites will be in 100% compliance. Who is Responsible for this Work: Sara Daniel, Webmaster/eCommunications Coordinator Survey all APS sites in October 2010 Produce Guidelines manual Get manual approved and disseminate to schools Meet individually with ITCs and webmasters Provide appropriate training as needed Identify and prioritize site updates Survey sites in June 2011 to ascertain level of compliance SMART Goal #6: Annual Superintendent Chats During the Superintendent Chats scheduled in the school year, community and parent interest and participation was unusually high since Arlington Public Schools had a newly hired superintendent and the chats afforded the community an opportunity to meet and get to know Dr. Murphy. This year, staff will work to maintain the level of participation (as measured by attendance) at the Superintendent s Chats at 80% of the participation or a total of xx participants for the school year.

8 Rationale The Superintendent Chats are held annually to establish effective communication with community members and parents and to increase ongoing two way communication between the APS leadership and parents and community members. In support of Strategic Plan # 4, APS seeks to build and strengthen relationships with parents and the community so that they know about and actively support the education of our students. Success will be based on the total number of parents and/or community members who attend the chats. Who is Responsible for this Work: Coordinator Dawn Willard, Community Outreach & Special Events Collect previous year s location, number of participants at each chat, and topic of discussion. ( School Year 10 chats; xxx participants) Reach out to PTA and community leadership to find hosts throughout the community to encourage diverse participation from a broad range of neighborhoods. Ensure ongoing outreach with parents, principals, community members, churches, civic organizations and PTAs. Communicate regularly with PTA leadership to encourage participation. Develop a flyer to publicize the Chats and distribute it via backpack mail, community centers, libraries, and other community centers. Write regular news release to publicize the chats and post notices to the APS Web Site, the APS Web calendar and other locations. Utilize APS School Talk and other communication channels to send at least three (3) notices for each chat. Designate specific chats for translation services and publicize that among the diverse communities in Arlington. TBD

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