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Public Relations Plan

2013-2014
An International Baccalaurate Charter School


Overview
Historically, our school has faced many challenges. The social status of the area
in which we are located has been generally below the poverty level. The
economic crisis that America has faced has left a number of our families lacking
basic needs, thus causing many families focus to stray from academics. With
declining test scores labeling our school as failing, parents opted for their
children to be transferred to other schools in the district. A year after this
change, the option was taken away, bringing unhappy families back to our
school. With a troubled past and fingers pointed for blame we face a world of
unknowns.

This year we are challenged with change. As Oak Middle School transitions from
a traditional academic curriculum to a rigorous International Baccalaureate
model, collaboration is more important than ever. We must acknowledge the
importance of various internal and external members of our school community
and the roles they play in providing a supportive educational environment for our
students. This communications plan was designed to bring our school and
community stakeholders together to clarify the process of change, develop
common goals and supports to maintain them, and reemphasize the importance
of upholding a culture of communication. By working together, we can create an
environment of interactivity and accountability, making everyone responsible for
the success of our students and school.


School
Personnel
Community
Partners
Student
Success
Internal Audiences
Members within the school system are of extreme importance in the realm of
communication. These people are on the front lines of academic daily life and know the
ins and outs of the school system. Each group offers a unique perspective on the
purpose of schools and each others roles in accomplishing that purpose. Including
members from each of these internal groups in a public relations plan is imperative as
each exemplifies the very purpose of our education system.

Students
Embody the focus of all efforts of the school community
Take personal responsibility for their own learning
Interact with various stakeholders (other students, parents, community members)
on a daily basis
Participate in various extracurricular activities (inside and outside school building)

Teachers
Understand state standards of education
Maintain high expectations for students academic success
Communicate with parents regarding student success and goal attainment
Know and capitalize on student motivators for academic achievement
Participate in professional development to hone skills and gain strategies for
student success

Support Staff
Link staff within school building
Provide support for students

Administration
Provide structure within school building
Promote professionalism and community among teachers and support staff
Serve as a mentor to students and staff

District Staff / Leaders
Support school staff / leaders through professional development opportunities
Share the responsibility for improving all schools within the district

School Board
Implement changes that affect school policy and student learning

External Audiences
A school is not a solitary entity; a community rich in resources surrounds it. The people,
groups, and cultures within these communities offer experiences and opportunities that
should be taken advantage of whenever possible. Accordingly, we at Oak Middle
School strive to involve stakeholders from various parts of the community to enhance
our decision-making processes and increase support for the academic and social
enrichment of our students.

Parents / Families
Encourage and support learning in and out of school
Communicate school personnel
Share desire for educating responsible, learned students

Parent-Teacher Organizations
Bridge communication and collaboration gaps between school home
Facilitate active parent involvement in school matters

Taxpayers / Neighborhood Groups / New Residents / Senior Residents
Share pride in neighborhood
Want to see successful schools as a return on tax money supporting the system

Religious Leaders / Faith-based Groups / Civic Organizations
Believe in serving others to better the community
Promote values to inspire others while enriching their own lives

Business Leaders / Real Estate / Local Colleges
Understand that quality schools provide quality graduates that enter the
workforce or high education
Support better schools to increase real-estate value, revenue, and college-bound
candidates
Realize that population growth provides a larger market of consumers

Military / Law Enforcement / Elected Officials
Desire for a safe community of responsible citizens
Promote academic learning as means to improve social behaviors

Media Representatives
Promote school news and events to greatest percentage of community members
Link school and community members that have no direct link to district
Goals

With the change to an International Baccalaureate program comes many challenges.
The purpose of this Public Relations Plan is to eliminate skepticism that comes with
change and community history and work with stakeholders to embrace the opportunity
reinvent the school and community.

To realize this purpose, Oak Middle School will:

1. Build and maintain collaborative relationships with all stakeholders
through the development of a shared mission and vision for Oak Middle
School

2. Establish strong lines for open communication between internal and
external stakeholders

3. Provide regular communication on school-wide progress through a variety
of media

4. Utilize community partners to enrich the culture and academics within the
school building

5. Provide support for school and community members to foster learning and
growth

6. Utilize media sources to effectively enhance the image of the school and
community

7. Assess the effectiveness of our charter program and Public Relations
efforts to plan changes and future initiatives

Strategies
The following are specific strategies to accomplish each Public Relations goal.

1. Build and maintain collaborative relationships with all stakeholders
through the development of a shared mission and vision for Oak Middle
School
Hold a meeting to brief staff on the districts decision to change to an
International Baccalaureate program to clarify implications of the change and the
theory behind it. This group is on the front lines of the initiative and deserves the
opportunity to absorb news before going public. Gathering feedback (questions,
concerns) from school staff during this meeting will help administrators prepare
for community stakeholder meeting.
Invite all stakeholders to an informational meeting regarding the
changeover to an International Baccalaureate program. Using feedback from
the staff meeting, administration can clarify implications of the change and the
theory behind it. Feedback (questions, concerns) from community members can
be used in the next step of forming a mission and vision for the school.
Invite key communicators from groups of various internal and external
stakeholders to take part in a focus group to establish community and
school priorities hoped to accomplish with the adoption of the new program.
During this meeting, stakeholders will collaborate to establish a shared vision for
the school. This collective ownership will effectively enhance each groups
motivation toward supporting the goal and seeing it through to fruition.

2. Establish strong lines for open communication between internal and
external stakeholders
Identify key communicators through which to relay information. Establishing
known contacts will safeguard against information slipping through cracks of
broken channels.
Encourage positive communication rather than focusing on negative. Yes it is
important to inform people of bad news, but if the only thing coming via
communication channels is bad news, people stop paying attention.
Sandwiching positive and negative information keeps lines of communication
open, honest, and more readily accepted.
Be present and active in community events. By encouraging staff to participate
in events and groups within the community, external stakeholders get to know
internal stakeholders on a different level. This personal nature, to which humans
are innately drawn, breaks down barriers that often stop communication from
occurring.
Encourage community members to take an active part in communication.
Signing up for a school-wide email, visiting the school website, and using Parent
Portal helps keep community members informed and engaged in the actions and
efforts of the school.

3. Provide regular communication on school-wide progress through a variety
of media
Utilize various methods of communication to spread news to stakeholders.
Electronic sources such as email and Twitter are great ways to reach busy
parents and community members, but notes home and Connect Ed messages
reach those stakeholders that may not be privy to the luxuries of technology.
The more avenues a school staff takes to getting the word out, the more likely
community members are to hear it.
Communicate in a timely manner. It is a well-known fact that the more
avenues through which a message travels, the greater the chance it has of being
miscommunicated. Accordingly, if community members hear the message
directly from a person within the school first, the message is more likely to be
clearly understood.
Dont wait for others to contact you. To be an agent of change, one has to
take action. Reaching out to informing stakeholders of school news or invite
them to take part in school events will create opportunities for collaboration,
communication, and enrichment through community partnerships that may not
have organically evolved.

4. Utilize community partners to enrich the culture and academics within the
school building
Welcome community involvement in schools. Volunteers provide support for
teachers, mentors for students, and positive images for schools.
Utilize focus groups in decision-making to help bring together various
perspectives on important subjects. When used strategically, groups with
members of different stakeholder groups can voice opinions that bring about
innovative ideas, close gaps between priorities, and foster a shared effort toward
the success of a decision.
Recognize cultural diversity within school communities to help staff to better
understand the students within the school. The IB Middle Years Program is one
of a global framework, in which students are provided extensive exposure to
languages, cultures, and universally important issues. Embracing the cultural
differences of our in our school and community can help to bridge gaps between
home / school learning and communication, as well as provide valuable learning
opportunities for our students.
Employ business and community partners to connect classroom learning to
real-life situations. The IB Middle Years Program champions the understanding
of community and service. Business and community partners may take part in
educating students by helping them analyze their places within the various
communities in which they reside. These partnerships can also help students
cultivate communication skills and connect classroom lessons to the real world.

5. Provide support for school and community members to foster learning and
growth
Hold informational meetings to inform stakeholders of school developments.
The differences between the traditional school model and an IB model are
substantial. Educating staff, parents, and communities if the implications of an IB
program will help all members understand the challenge the community faces.
Furthermore, those with experience in either areas of study / focus within the
program may come forward to assist in the transformation.
Provide important information in a way that is easy to understand. When
pertinent material is simplified, stakeholders receive the information they desire
in a way that they can understand. This helps to educate community members of
all education and ability levels.
Offer learning opportunities to staff and community members alike. Providing
professional development will help staff gain the skills they need to successfully
implement the new IB program. Similarly, providing ongoing informational
sessions for community partners, apprising them of school performance and
developments, can help them better understand how to support school efforts in
their own homes and communities.

6. Utilize media sources to effectively enhance the image of the school and
community
Publish and distribute informational works that showcase student growth
both academically and socially. Rarely does the good news of a school make it
to the front page of the local newspaper, so publishing your own school
newspaper lets you have control over the headline, spinning it to promote the
positive aspects of the school.
Utilize social media to reach to busy community members. Facebook and
Twitter are completely acceptable methods of communicating school
happenings. These applications give important tidbits of information in a timely
manner to multiple numbers of people at a minimal cost, all available at the touch
of a button.
Be proactive when dealing with the media. Providing the media with plenty of
optimistic and upbeat stories that focus on the positive aspects of the school
whenever available can keep media reporters from digging up stories in the
hopes of meeting a deadline.

7. Assess the effectiveness of our charter program and Public Relations
efforts to plan changes and future initiatives
Employ the use of surveys to gather feedback from internal and external
stakeholders. Both types of feedback can help the school reach its goals by
providing a solid foundation of initiatives that work and a roadmap toward
improving those that did not. Furthermore, surveys promote a two-way flow of
honest communication, which fosters a community of mutual respect.
Use informal communications to gauge stakeholder satisfaction. In
maintaining consistent contact with students, parents, and community / business
partners, school staff and faculty have a running record of successes and failures
within their schools. Rather than waiting for the results of a formal survey, school
staff can use these informal communications make changes to procedures,
curriculum, or initiatives when the need arises.
Provide evidence of using data to guide decision-making. People are more
likely to give their opinions and feedback if they feel that it is being recognized.
Sharing and using data that is collected to make decisions in school policy or
procedures shows the school values its stakeholders, thus encouraging them to
continue taking an active part in working toward the schools success.

Next Steps
1

Phase of
Charter
Development
Essential Elements of
Phase
Timeline for
Completion
Strategies Employed
1: Exploring
Charter Schools
Study charter law
Form a core group of
stakeholders
Develop timeline for
implementation
Study IB Program
Design school plan
June 2013
July 3, 2013
Admin. to investigate charter
and IB program
Meetings for staff and
community members
Identify key stakeholders as
core group
Provide media with
development processes
2: Application
Develop a clear mission
and vision
Assess facility and
staffing needs
Develop school
schedule
July 8, 2013
Aug. 9, 2013
Focus groups to prioritize
goals and establish
mission/vision
Admin. to assess facility and
staffing needs to meet IB
program, create school
schedule, and plan
professional development
3: Pre-
Operations
Staff Professional
Development
Team meetings to
establish goals
Aug.12, 2013
Aug. 30, 2013
Professional Development
opportunities for teachers
and staff
Team meetings to establish
roles/goals
Informational meetings for
parents and stakeholders
Establish community partner
roles
4: Operations
Welcome
students/parents/
community partners
Assess implementation
Make changes to
school policy
Sept. 1, 2013
June 2014
Media relations to promote
opening of school
Survey stakeholders
Collect student performance
data
Faculty meetings to discuss
feedback/data
Focus teams to
reevaluate/refine programs
Inform media of
development


1
Steps adapted from the New Hampshire Center for Innovative Schools
Resources

Carlsmith, L., & Railsback, J. (2001). By request: The power of public relations in schools.
Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved from
http://educationnorthwest.org/webfm_send/447
Fiore, D. J. (2011). School-community relations (3rd ed.). Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education.
Hampton City Schools. (2011). Communications plan: Internal & external. In Hampton, VA:
Retrieved from
http://www.sbo.hampton.k12.va.us/departments/publicrelations/communicationPlan.pdf
Henderson, A. T., & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family,
and community connections on student achievement. Austin, TX: SEDL National Center
for Family and Community Connections with Schools. Retrieved from
http://www.sedl.org/pubs/catalog/items/fam33.html
Humphrey, P., & Southerton, M. (2013, March 11). New Hampshire center for innovative
schools. Retrieved from http://www.nhcharterschools.org/joomla/index.php/how-to-start-
a-charter
International Baccalaureate Organization. (2012). The IB middle years program: Education for a
better world.
Rockwood School District. (2010). Comprehension communications plan 2010-2011. Wildwood
MO: Rockwood Communications. Retrieved from
http://www.rockwood.k12.mo.us/communications/Downloads/Communications%20Plan
%202010-2011.pdf