K-12 District ‘Tweets’ During Summer Break

BANDERA, Texas

While students head to the beaches and pools for summer fun, many K-12 school districts turn their attention to staff development, budget planning and teacher training.

The Bandera Independent School District in central Texas is focusing on those internal tasks, but also keeping up its external communications using a social media campaign launched in February to give parents updates via Twitter, Facebook, a blog and e-newsletters.

The district that manages 2,600 students at four schools and 450 employees has enthusiastically embraced social media as an effective outreach tool to parents who often work in San Antonio, which is a 40-minute drive from the campuses, according to Brad Domitrovich, the district’s communications director.

“We’re in a rural area here,” Domitrovich tells Campus Safety magazine. “We’ve used a lot of electronic tools to keep in touch with parents because it’s not easy for them to get to schools during the day.”

During the summer months, the district has used micro-blogging site Twitter to send out short “tweets” (of 140 characters or less) and shortened URLs that point to updates on the district website about school supply lists, immunization dates and registration information.

The district launched a Facebook page in late July, posts blog updates on Tumblr and Blogger, produces four e-mail newsletters and regularly updates its website. Domitrovich handles the duties himself, which he says are manageable.

“The nice part about having word processing is you write it once and basically you’re copying and pasting into different environments,” Domitrovich said.

The district hasn’t put Twitter to the test with an emergency incident, but Domitrovich said Bandera ISD is prepared to use the social sites for mass notification if inclement weather or another incident crops up.

Twitter’s instant-update format did keep the district up to date, when the H1N1 “Swine Flu” virus arrived from Mexico in the spring. Domitrovich followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which used Twitter to disseminate its updates.

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