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KCSD expands communication with parents

Posted: July 12, 2013 3:55 p.m.
Updated: July 15, 2013 5:00 a.m.

The Kershaw County School District (KCSD) is moving past the traditional methods it used to keep parents informed this past school year.

The district’s Facebook page received 66,514 hits during the 2012-13 school year, compared to only a little more than 1,110 hits during the 2011-12 school year. To add to that growth, KCSD Director of Communications Mary Anne Byrd said that, beginning with the new school year, each school will be required to use Facebook to communicate with parents. Byrd and KCSD Webmaster/Multimedia Coordinator Julie Putnam gave the board an update on the practicality and effectiveness of using social media sites to reach parents at the board’s July 9 meeting.

Each individual school can now bring day-to-day school events to those who might not be able to get to school every day, such as grandparents and aunts and uncles, Byrd said. Even parents who might not be traditionally involved in school happenings have a chance to interact through Facebook “likes” and shares, she said. Nothing, however, beats face-to-face communication, Byrd said, and the district will continue to schedule conferences and meetings.

 “This doesn’t replace anything, it just really enhances. People are shifting. Maybe that traditional website is still important, but it may not be getting as many hits because we are moving to social media, and particularly to Facebook,” Byrd said.

The 2012-13 school year brought lots of hits to the district’s various sites. During the 2011-12 school year, more than 30,900 people visited the district’s eChalk website. During the 2012-13 school year, that number jumped to more than 81,100. The district’s main website’s hits increased by more than 90,000 to 306,986 visitors this year. The new district website launched at the begging of the 2012-13 school year and was one of three school websites honored by the S.C. Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association’s 2013 Rewards for Excellence.

Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan’s podcast recaps of each school board meeting increased to 963 hits this school year from last school year’s 499 hits, Putnam reported. The podcast was an idea Morgan brought to the district, Byrd said. The district’s blog decreased by about 10,000 hits, but Byrd and Putnam said that was probably just because the district now offers so many other forms of communication. Morgan said he often posts school news on his personal Facebook page.

The district’s PowerSchool Parent Portal increased by more than 73,000 hits from 2011-12 to 2012-13. The portal allows parents to access student’s grades as they are posted in teacher grade books. The district plans to allow high school students to check their grades during the upcoming school year, which will have a profound effect on the number of hits the site receives during the upcoming school year.

The district also sent out about 84,000 more messages through School Messenger this year. School Messenger updates parents through telephone calls, emails and text messages. Messages can be sent out for emergencies, student absences and low-balances in their meal accounts. The district also uses a Twitter account to deliver information, Putnam said.

Morgan said gone are the days when you send important information in back-packs or call home during dinner time.

“Parents expect the school district to be accessible to them, for communication purposes, 24-7 and this is where technology has changed the landscape,” he said.

 

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