It may not seem like it, but using your budget as a communications tool can help districts show value and highlight areas where additional financial support is needed. A clear communications plan around your budget can help parents, educators, staff and the community see progress towards collective goals.
Outlining a shared vision for education and demonstrating how budget priorities align to outcomes, signals your commitment to achieving your goals. A communication plan can also help to strengthen understanding for community members who do not have students in the system but will play a role in deciding whether to invest taxpayer dollars in education initiatives.
When creating a communications plan here are some questions to consider:
- Have you clearly communicated the budget process?
- Are there established opportunities for public engagement and feedback?
- Have you clearly explained budget decisions?
- Have you selected trusted sources and messengers for communications by audience?
Ready for next steps?
Clearly and consistently tell stories of success
- Map out key opportunities and forums throughout the year to provide an update on education investments
- Strive to highlight a story once a month through social media/web, outreach events, newsletters, local media and/or speaking engagements
- Create a campaign tagline with accompanying visuals and #hashtags to help promote and strengthen connections with taxpayer investments and student achievement
- Encourage board members to visit schools to create excitement
- Consider including stories of success on your website
To build trust, establish regular two-way communications with families and the community
- Develop a publication for distribution to district residents – consider a partnership with the utility or water distribution providers to broaden reach
- Implement a “speaker’s bureau” of in-district experts for use by community and business organizations
- Develop relationships with relators and chambers of commerce to provide resources to help new residents and businesses learn about the local school district.
When it comes to budgets, start the process early. Be transparent. Get the community engaged and make sure to connect the faces of students and the impact on their lives with high impact data.