Citizen involvement checklist for back to school week

OSBA’s PR In Action subscription service offers the following proven ideas that take little time and pay big dividends:

Bringing the community into your schools is important. More than 70 percent of today’s voters do not have school-aged children.

Bringing the community to your schools:

  • Boast about the achievements of students and staff by displaying honors, awards, achievements and projects for visitors to see.
  • Offer tours for business people and community leaders and meeting space for clubs and lunches in school cafeterias for key communicators.
  • Send special invitations to events to senior citizens, staff from other schools, parents and businesspeople. Plays, concerts, games, open houses, dances, carnivals and field days all give citizens a chance to see kids at their best.
  • Provide a phone number and e-mail address that can be answered promptly and courteously... without the caller receiving a continuous busy signal or voice-mail prompts.
  • Send your newsletters to friends, neighbors, alumni, businesspeople, professionals, churches and vendors.
  • Take school to the people. Set up displays and activities in malls, libraries, grocery stores, churches or the post office. Sponsor a parade to celebrate education in your community or take part in existing community celebrations.
  • Know what information is public information and make it available upon request without hassle.
  • Offer community education programs, including computer classes.
  • Organize an outreach program for citizens who have not participated in any school events.
  • Provide training to staff on communicating with parents and the community.
  • Host a community banquet to honor all student and staff achievements and activities.
  • Create a talent bank. Community members can provide supplemental instruction to students and staff, and staff can provide instruction to the community.
  • Develop a database of the names and addresses of everyone who visits your schools for any reason. Use this database as the beginning of a key communicator list. Send information and invitations regularly to these people.
  • Run an ad in the local newspaper inviting community members to see education in action for themselves. Set aside certain days and times for each building to be open.
  • Invite realtors to meet at a school site.
  • Invite a well-known citizen to a special visit. Ask him or her to challenge another leader to visit.
  • Contact alumni and invite them to return for a celebration.
  • Honor a "good citizen of the week" with a special invitation to lunch.
  • Hold a district science fair somewhere other than at school. Use adults who don’t have children in school as judges. Offer "free tickets" for school visits so they can see more education in action.
  • Take student performing groups on the road.
  • Sponsor a cross-generational learning exchange on a Saturday. Provide senior citizens and students an opportunity to learn from each other.
  • Host a spelling bee, teaming adults and students.
  • People need a reason to visit your schools. Give them an important task, offer them something useful or request their help or opinions.
  • How do you answer the following questions about your school?
    • Is the school open and friendly?
    • Are neighbors treated with respect?
    • Do parents dread trying to phone?
    • Can visitors find what they need?
    • Is there a place to park?
    • Are signs posted to welcome visitors and give directions to the office?
    • Are office hours clearly posted?
    • Is the office staff kind and courteous with visitors?
    • Are buildings and grounds well-maintained to present a positive image?

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