Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Communication post a good idea

As the parent of two children in Blaine County schools, I believe it is vital to the future of our schools that the board of trustees confirm the appointment of a communication director.

In 2009, Superintendent Barber, recognizing deficiencies in the district's communications, proposed engaging an independent expert to evaluate the situation. The board of trustees unanimously approved, and a communications audit was conducted in 2010, with many community members participating. Subsequently, public feedback was solicited at a town hall meeting. Taking the audit and public views into account, the board last November authorized the creation of a new post: communication director. There has been enough discussion—it's is time for the board of trustees to make a decision.

The final audit report stated this striking conclusion:

"The most significant overall finding from the communication audit of Blaine County Schools is that the district has accomplished as much as it can given its current level of investment in communications ... [I]n order to address many of the issues outlined in the "Key Findings and General Observations" section, it is critical to increase the investment of time and resources in communication-related functions. Without it, the district is not likely to see much improvement in the quality or quantity of communication with its internal and external stakeholders."

Specifically, the auditor urged that the district invest in a communication director.

Moving ahead with this appointment should bring us benefits that far outweigh the cost:

- Communication will dramatically improve as the director implements the auditor's recommendations.

- Community concerns will be heard as the director encourages two-way communication.

- Rumor and suspicion will give way to understanding and trust; staff morale will improve.

- A better-informed community will appreciate its vital stake in the district's success.

- The district can focus on educating our children instead of defending itself from its critics.

Mike Burchmore

Sun Valley

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