“Online Engagement Tools”

Some have you may have seen Griff Wigley’s post on LocallyGrown about a project he’s working on with the school district to create and maintain “online engagement tools” that would give members of the community an enhanced opportunity to connect with the district online—for example, to give feedback on the “modified balanced calendar” proposal. Griff was hired by the district administration (not the school board) to set up these tools (blogging, webinars, etc.), to act at least temporarily as a moderator, and to train district officials to use these tools effectively on their own. These tools will remain in place beyond the calendar discussion to provide an ongoing opportunity for community members to interact with the district.

Before a school district can approve and implement a modified calendar with a pre-Labor Day start, the district is required by statute (124D.124) to hold three public meetings on the proposal. If the board approves the proposal, it is sent to the education commissioner for approval.

As we talk about “transformational technology” in the district, these online engagement tools are an example of using technology to transform and improve how the district communicates with the community about important issues.

A “balanced calendar” was originally proposed in 2011 for the 2011-2012 school year, but was rejected by the school board in early 2011 (see item VII.A.1 in the minutes of the January 10, 2011 meeting). I do think that an opportunity was missed over the past two years to open up the discussion of this issue and prepare the community for its reintroduction now. I hope these new online engagement tools (and this blog) will help to keep these important conversations going.

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