R-II district broadening outreach to community, school patrons

By Derrick Forsythe, Record Staff Writer
Posted 11/7/19

With students filing in and class back in session, the Wright City R-II School District is taking the initiative to enhance its community outreach in 2016-17. This effort is partly in response to …

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R-II district broadening outreach to community, school patrons


With students filing in and class back in session, the Wright City R-II School District is taking the initiative to enhance its community outreach in 2016-17.This effort is partly in response to feedback from an April survey implying that one of the greatest concerns of voters is feeling disconnected from knowing what is happening in the district.R-II is using multiple formats to improve this situation, including both in-person approaches, additional supports for students and virtual outreach.“We want to be transparent and share our students successes,” said Superintendent David Buck.The district is implementing a Lunch Buddy program, inviting local elected officials and business leaders to sign up to have lunch twice a month with a student for an informal mentoring session.“The idea is to help a student develop a growth mindset and healthy self-image,” said Buck. “To help students in need of a mentor to have one. This will take place in the school and be supervised.”Those interested in participating should contact the central office to obtain an application and background check form needed before starting the program.The district also is looking for creative ways to meet its students’ basic needs, adding the Care to Learn initiative. Created by actor Brad Pitt’s brother, the program has been in existence in Missouri for seven years.“This is a nonprofit approach to helping students with needs in the area of hunger, hygiene and health,” said Buck. “With over 50 percent of our population qualifying for free or reduced lunch, we see a large need that we hope Care to Learn will help us meet.”In an effort to build enrollment and bring growth to the community, the district is looking to better inform developers about the positive aspects and benefits of children attending Wright City R-II.Buck says there will be a newly created luncheon for realtors and builders in the area twice a year during April and September.“From time to time, we have individuals from both groups call and ask for information about the district,” he said. “They use that information with potential buyers as they look at where they want to live. They interface with so many individuals. We will go over the state of the district address and answer their questions to help them sell our wonderful community.”To keep the residents better informed, the district will reintroduce The Connections school newspaper as a print version that is mailed to all stakeholders five times a year.“One thing we took away from our random phone survey was that less than 15 percent of our patrons read the online Connection, but over 60 percent look for the printed version for information about the district,” said Buck.“We decided to move to five mailings per year to all patrons to increase communication. The goal is to communicate with the our stakeholders in the way they utilize the most.”The district also started a YouTube channel titled Wright City R-II School District over the summer.“The idea and utilization are still being developed,” said Buck. “We know that videos are powerful communication pieces — and creating them is a job-embedded skill that our kids can learn from. We will explore how to utilize this for learning purposes and communication purposes.”Additionally, based on feedback, the board made it a priority to upgrade the website to make it more user friendly and compatible for all size devices. They also increased the use of Facebook as a primary means of reaching parents, after its popularity over Twitter and Instagram was revealed through surveys.“Last year we introduced Throw Back Thursday to help increase the number of followers, and it worked,” added Buck.In the past the district has held town hall meetings, but that came to an end after having just a few participants over the course of consecutive years. The Community Advisory Team (CAT) numbers have increased, but are still often less than 50 percent attendance.“Community involvement has long been a goal of the district,” said Buck “A strong school and a strong community are intertwined in our eyes, and we look forward to continued and new partnerships.”Wright City R-II