CCS discusses communication lines

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At the Oct. 16 meeting of the Columbus City Schools Board of Education, Superintendent Gene Harris discussed Executive Limitations nine, provision one.

This provision is in regards to communicating with the public, and states, “The CEO shall use a broad spectrum of mediums about CCS efforts and accomplishments.”

Board member Carol Perkins expressed concern with the communications methods the district is using in regards to transportation.

“Are there processes in place if parents want to know where the busses are? I don’t know if it’s feasible or not, if it takes 10 people or 20 people, I just want to make sure the process is in place so parents aren’t waiting on the phone 20 25 minutes just to find out where their child is,” said Perkins.

Harris said this is something the district is working on but it is somewhat difficult since by that time of day it is after normal schools hours so the secretaries and other staff are gone.

“The challenge is to have enough staff on hand, you can’t necessarily anticipate there’s going to be an accident or something that delays the bus, so our challenge is to determine what we can do to make sure we have enough staff without overstaffing and overflowing our budget while communicating with the parents,” said Harris.

Harris also noted the district has a GPS system on the busses, which has helped in this type of situation.

Board President Terry Boyd expressed concern on this provision that not enough empirical information is given about whether the message is getting out to people the district does not normally reach.

“There’s an Ohio study that shows only one in four people knew the graduation rate was raising. I imagine that would shock people considering the number of  times we hear it over and over again, but just because we hear it over and over again, that doesn’t mean the public at large hears it over and over again,” said Boyd.

Harris responded that because there are so many different means of communication, the district’s communication strategy must be purposefully broad and it does take seven times to communicate a message before it finally gets through.

“We’ve had to tighten our belts so we try to use the most cost effective means,” said Harris.

Also at the meeting, Harris took time to honor the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation for the support and the programs they have underwritten at CCS.

“It’s my pleasure to publicly express my personal thanks and the deep thanks of the board, staff and students of CCS for the many programs and initiatives partnered with and underwritten by the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation. They directly benefit our students and their families, as well as directly and indirectly benefiting our staff, the district and the central Ohio community,” said Harris.

Harris said the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation (OHF) supports and underwrites the “Healthy and Fit in School and Beyond” program and the foundation recognizes that academic achievement and student enrollment improve whenever students lead a healthy lifestyle.

Harris also said OHF has been instrumental in many other programs, such as assisting the district development of a wellness program. OHF also teamed up with CCS to write health and physical education curriculum standards from kindergartenthrough fifth grade as well as working with seven pilot schools to change their food offerings to healthier alternatives. They also helped create the School Health Advisory Council.

“We look forward to continuing this very dynamic relationship to benefit our students and everyone involved. And we know that this initiative will help us on our continued improvement of district academic achievement; it’s a win-win-win outcome in all directions,” said Harris.

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