To have a community that is engaged and involved with the school board requires good intention and constant communication. The school board works with the community to shape public education in the local school district. The main goal for the board should be effective collaboration and engagement with the local public.
Community engagement is the process where school boards actively connect with diverse members of the local public in discourse, discussion, and collaborative thinking around common goals and interests for local public education.
School boards should consider connecting with the public as an opportunity that strengthens their district. This opportunity helps the board develop a greater understanding of the needs, issues, goals, and standards set by the public for the district.
Effectively engaging with the community means that school boards truly reach out to involve members of the public, recognizing that there are many benefits through this connectedness. Understanding the needs of the public helps board members serve as better representatives and advocates for local public education.
An engaged community supports school boards in doing their best work as this participation encourages thoughtful, intentional, and strategic decision making. The positive effects of civic engagement in local public education are significant and can affect students and schools long term.
Student performance benefits from community involvement
Research has proven that an engaged community has a positive effect on student achievement and outcomes. This increased participation is strongly linked to faster literacy achievement, increased rates of students going on to secondary education, and decreased rates of students dropping out of school.
School boards and the local community both have the same goals for public education: student success. The desire is for students to reap benefits from their education and for positive impacts to be made that last for years to come. When connection with the public is encouraged and supported by the school board, these positive outcomes can be felt by staff, students, administrators, and the public.
In research conducted on districts that made significant improvement in raising student achievement, researchers found that school boards not only encouraged public involvement and kept them informed, but thought of and treated them as teammates and partners. Recognizing these relationships as important partnerships has a great effect on learning.
Relationships between the board and community are reinforced
The school board needs to provide space for the public to be heard, where the performance of the schools can be held accountable. For members of the public who may not be able to attend every school board meeting, technology can make a way for these individuals to maintain involvement while staying informed of progress made by the school board. In these cases, technology is imperative to maintaining community engagement.
An informed citizen is an empowered citizen. Leveraging the right technology, the school board can maintain and update pertinent information to keep the public informed of the work being done in the local district.
Utilizing the right board management software, relevant updates regarding resources, meeting information, and projects can be shared with the local public. Providing an appropriate level of information with the public cultivates ownership and trust. School boards can apply software to ensure relevant information and updates are shared with the public.
Leveraging tools to support an engaged community
An effectively engaged community provides boards with the opportunity to tackle legitimate public issues and goals regarding local education and exercises the democratic opportunities to work collectively and collaboratively. The school board must not only share pertinent information with the public regarding education, but must actively create opportunities that reach out and connect with the community.
Leveraging the right software, like Community by Diligent, with its expansive features, school boards have the opportunity to apply technology in ways that will mobilize the public to get involved in public education affairs. With a return on increasing civic engagement within the public, making the investment in board management technology is truly worthwhile.
Community keeps important board materials (such as: policies, agendas, minutes, legislation, and other important documents) and makes this information easily accessible to school board members and the public (various security levels are available to protect sensitive information).
Not only are members of the public able to access this information, but it can be made searchable by keyword. This simplified feature helps empower and educate citizens to participate in discussions regarding local public education. Community by Diligent’s ADA compliant, multi-platform mobile capability supports and encourages accessibility and involvement for the whole community.
When creating paperless meeting agendas, specific articles or documents can be linked within the agenda items. Access to meeting details, agendas, and previous minutes allow for members of the public to participate more in a way that is simple and informative. Creating streamlined access to pertinent materials for community members to stay informed demonstrates how technology can be used collaboratively to encourage involvement in public education.
Intentional engagement with the public
School boards should reflect the needs and interests of the public through local education while encouraging participation from its citizens. Technology has a great impact in the board’s ability to actively engage and communicate with the community. It is determining how the school board can best leverage technology to encourage and support civic engagement and community development, that will have the greatest impact on public involvement.
Community engagement is an opportunity for boards and the local public to collaboratively and collectively support public education, cultivating benefits for students and schools that are meaningful to student success and long-term to support future generations. School boards can develop programs and opportunities that encourage an engaged community from members of the public, not placing the onus of connection or participation on citizens, but paving the way for involvement through seamless and simplified technology resources.
When school boards utilize the right technology, the opportunity for community members to engage in local public education is simplified and streamlined. The public has the ability and access to participate in a way that had not previously been made.
The benefits of an engaged community are immeasurable and invaluable. Consider how your district may encourage connectedness with the public, applying technology in new ways to better support involvement and participation.