Washoe County (Nev.) School District was recently named the 2012 recipient of the Leadership Through Communication Award for enhancing the school-to-parent communication within the school system.
Sponsored by Blackboard Connect, the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the award recognizes the school district’s Superintendent Heath Morrison and Irene Payne, chief communications and community engagement officer. Despite extreme budget uncertainty and reductions due to Nevada’s deep economic troubles, they were able to maintain resources for a strong communication program as an effective management tool to support student achievement. The K-12 urban school system in Reno services 63,000 students in 94 schools.
Morrison and Payne will be formally awarded at the AASA conference in February.
Rick Harris, chief officer of logistics and operation for Washoe County School District, said the communication department has been a good PR ally for the transportation department. This past summer it helped publicized the school district’s regional safety exercise, and in November the communications team helped promote how the school district and transportation department prepare for winter weather.
“They did a fabulous job on getting the word out to the local media. They had every TV news station out and they had different angles on the topic,” Harris said.
School district officials were able to inform the community how they decide to delay, close down or continue school as normal depending on the current or expected levels of snowfall and road conditions.
“We start tracking the weather 10 days in advance, and the feedback we received from the community was they didn’t realize we had prepared for that long,” Harris said. “Our communication department helps us with getting the right information out.”