Community Relations Checklist

Good governance is the best PR!

• Share a common vision and goals. Spending the time to develop this common
vision, with extensive involvement of your community, will help align decisions,
policy, programs and staffing.
• Take a critical look at yourself to make sure the board is discharging its
responsibilities to the community as fully as possible.
• Consider a board self-evaluation based on a positive approach — where are we
doing well and where do we need to improve?
• Develop a board development plan to build your skills as board members. Take
advantage of opportunities to learn more about board work and education trends;
• Plan training programs for board members, especially new members.
• Make or change policy thoughtfully.


Support community relations in policy and structure. 

• Develop a clear policy that reflects the board’s commitment to communication.
• Hire a communications director or assign the communications function to a
competent staff member.
• Provide budget support for the communications program.
• Start a communications advisory committee that is active and involved.
• Include communications topics and skills in staff inservice programs.
• Hear an annual report on how the district is accomplishing its communication
• Agree that only the board chairman can speak for the entire board.


Use each board meeting as a community relations opportunity. 

• Send community leaders and other interested people agendas and other
appropriate information in advance of board meetings.
• Invite specific groups (PTA, Chamber of Commerce, etc.) to send regular
representatives to attend board meetings.
• Invite student representatives to attend your board meetings.
• Make sure your district’s vision, mission and goals are clearly displayed in the
board room. This will serve as a guide in decision making and a public reminder
of the driving forces behind the board’s work.
• Make sure the room is well lit, ventilated, has adequate seating for guests and a
sound system, if necessary, so visitors can hear the board’s deliberations.
• Place a nameplate in front of each board member so that visitors will know who
is speaking.
• Start meetings on time and schedule them so they are convenient to the public.
• Analyze your board meeting agendas. Are they complete and easy to
understand by members of the public or staff?
• Plan ways to exhibit student work at each meeting.
• Highlight each board meeting with recognition of the accomplishments of
students, staff and programs.
• Welcome citizen input at board meetings in a structured format.
• Send a follow-up letter to every community patron who addresses the board.
• Thank them for their interest and, if possible, give them further information
about the topic or topics about which they spoke.
• Develop a “Welcome” brochure for board meeting visitors.
• Introduce yourself to visitors before the board meeting begins; welcome them to
the meeting and find out if they have any questions.
• When you have a break in a board meeting, go into the audience and speak to
the staff and visitors.
• Prepare information for the media; provide a press table at board meetings.
• Make sure the highlights of the board meetings are well publicized to staff
members, key citizens and news media as soon as possible after the meeting.
• Hold board meetings in various schools in the community. Publicize in advance
and ask for local representation at the meeting.
• Conduct a board meeting evaluation periodically. What do you spend your time
on? That’s what you stand for.


Be visible, accessible, supportive and positive. 

• Be visible at school and civic events.
• Attend meetings of the PTA and community groups to be accessible to people.
• Create a staff recognition award for years of service to the schools and the
• Send letters to the parent(s) of each newborn child in your community,
congratulating them and letting them know there’s a place reserved in the
schools for that newest of all students — five years from now.
• Develop a plan to bring nonparent groups into your schools.
• Answer all correspondence.
• Follow through on questions and concerns.
• Ensure there are no surprises between board members and the superintendent.
• Keep professional staff and other school district staff members informed.
• React calmly when new or difficult situations arise.
• Keep an “open door” policy.
• Be diplomatic.
• Visit schools regularly.
• Become part of a speakers bureau for your schools. Appear on local television
and radio shows on the school district’s behalf.
• Visit local news media editors.
• Make it a point to be informed and aware of your employees’ accomplishments
whether they be school-related or otherwise. Send congratulatory notes
to employees.
• Take the time to ride a bus route or two during the year. You will be surprised
at the rapport you can build with bus drivers and students.
• Seek input of all taxpayers, not just the vocal parents in your district.
• Communicate regularly with local officials and state legislators.
• Be a cheerleader and speak enthusiastically about the accomplishments of
your district.
• Develop a list of two or three “brag facts” about staff, student or districtwide
accomplishments. Share them with everyone you meet.
• “Praise what you want to raise.” If you want to raise student achievement,
publicly praise academic accomplishments. If you want to improve good
teaching, publicly commend teachers doing a good job.
• Send students letters citing and lauding their accomplishments.
• Recognize contributions to the schools by local citizens.
• Keep in touch with constituents by phone or mail; conduct an annual
attitude survey.
• Take random samplings of local opinion on “hot” or emerging issues.
• Interest people and bring them along by your own enthusiasm.