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IASB PRESS RELEASES

IASB PUBLISHES COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT REPORT
August 30, 2013

The Illinois Association of School Boards has published a new document that will become the cornerstone of board development efforts designed to assist school boards in the purpose and process of community engagement.

Connecting with the Community: the Purpose and Process of Community Engagement as part of Effective School Board Governance” is the result of a year-long effort to develop new tools and training around this critical work.

While many school districts do very good work around public relations or polling, connecting with the community involves much more than that. Research shows that it requires an ongoing, two-way conversation that enables the school board to hear and understand the community’s educational aspirations and desires, to serve effectively as an advocate for district improvement and to accurately inform the community of the district’s performance.

The purpose of the report is to help school boards and superintendents understand what community engagement is, why it is critical, what they can expect to accomplish, and how to evaluate the results, according to IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy.

“Why are we doing this? Quite frankly, we are very concerned about what happens when or if school boards don’t engage in this vital work,” Eddy said in a memo distributed Sep. 1 to all member school board presidents and superintendents. “We believe strongly that this report provides a strong foundation that will begin the process of enabling school boards to take back and retain the control that so many are trying to take away from local school districts and their communities.

“Community engagement is not easy work, nor can it be done quickly. In fact, it must be well-planned and nurtured over an extended period of time, so think of it as a process rather than a single event. But is it important? You bet! And the payoff can be tremendous,” he said.

Member districts also received an Executive Summary that highlights the report in 10 parts:

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • What is Community Engagement?
  • The ‘Whys’ of Community Engagement
  • The ‘Hows’ of Community Engagement
  • Basic Principles of Community Engagement
  • Best Practices, Strategies and Tactics
  • An Evaluation Process for Community Engagement
  • Implementing a Community Engagement Process: One Approach
  • References

A memo and copy of the Executive Summary have been sent to all IASB member districts. Both the Executive Summary and full report are accessible online now. IASB will also offer a panel session at the 2013 Joint Annual Conference to introduce the report and the work behind it.

In-district and regional workshops on the purpose and process of community engagement are being developed. Regional events will be posted at IASB’s online events calendar and will be announced as they are scheduled.

More information about “Connecting with the Community: the Purpose and Process of Community Engagement as part of Effective School Board Governance” is available online at: www.iasb.com/training/connecting.cfm .

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