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communications plan

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Sharing information is a key to success — that is the catch phrase adopted by the Howe Sound School Board which is working toward implementing its new communications plan, intended to dispel a perception decisions are being made behind closed doors. The intent of the plan is to keep the educational community regularly informed about all school district business, programs, policies, procedures and activities and to provide open and honest two-way communication among all educational partners. The school board has announced it will be working on implementing both internal and external communications strategies this year as part of the overall plan. For the internal component, a district-wide flow chart will be developed outlining personnel employed by the district, committees, who’s who and who to contact for what and how. An employee handbook is also in the cards. As part of the external communications component of the plan, the district will be putting together a brochure outlining its involvement in the Howe Sound area, summarizing the programs offered at schools and providing contact lists for first-time school parents and new families to the district, plus contact numbers for other districts and allied businesses. The school district web site — www.sd48.bc.ca — will also see a revamp. As Squamish school trustee Amy Shoup said when she took over the helm from Judy Bourhis as board chair in December last year, notice of the board’s monthly meetings and agendas will soon be regularly posted on the web site as part of the communications strategy. The minutes of the school board meetings — which are difficult for the northern communities to attend — may also be posted. "All that information will be there for people... we really are trying to communicate with people because we do realize it is difficult for them to attend (the monthly meetings held in Squamish)." The board of trustees started developing the communications plan in their last three-year term. One of the long-term goals of the strategy is to build trust with a target audience that includes the general public, business, labour, municipalities, government, media, MLAs, parents and other partners. According to the draft strategy which was released earlier this year, the board recognizes not all news is good news and that a plan needs to be in place to deal with the "big" or "tragic" stories. The goal is to take charge and tell the story first. The strategy is also designed to help change a perception board decisions are made behind closed doors. One of the suggested action plans was to prepare press releases on the general topics of in-camera meetings as well as encourage debate at the board table. It was suggested there is nothing wrong with "disagreeing, persuading and expounding" and that the public wants to know "how" a decision was reached.

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