RSF School District Superintendent David Jaffe has proposed a new communications plan for the Rancho Santa Fe School District to better engage with parents and the overall Rancho Santa Fe community. The plan includes monthly principal meetings, quarterly superintendent forums and establishing clear guidelines for effective communication between staff and parents, as well as from the district to taxpayers, including families without school-age kids.
The draft plan will again be reviewed at the March school board meeting and will be either adopted as a board-approved plan or a superintendent initiative.
Jaffe prepared the draft plan with help from Hannah Clements, executive assistant to the superintendent and business services. For the framework of the plan, Clements drew from a similar plan used by Poway Unified School District, where she was the administrative assistant to the director of communications Christine Paik, a former TV news anchor.
By developing strategies and a style guide, staff can be trained to understand the impact of all communication and help them become advocates for the district. Jaffe said he has seen various articles with “misinformation” and he wants to make sure the public is getting the most accurate information.
Jaffe said the biggest gap in district communication is sharing the successes of the school with the public as a whole.
“The end goal for me, I know it will be successful when the large majority of communication and conversation about Rancho Santa Fe and R. Roger Rowe School is: ‘Of course we would send our kids there’ and our parents have the information necessary to talk about that when they’re in the community,” Jaffe said.
Goals for the 2018-19 school year include enhancing the e-newsletter, forming a communications advisory team, stakeholder surveys on topics such as homework or math, and developing an advisory steering committee for any significant issue that comes up in order to get feedback.
Jaffe, who used to hold “Java with Jaffe” events at Canyon Crest Academy when he was principal, hopes that the principal and superintendent forums will provide an opportunity for parents to address the administration on any number of issues in a small, informal setting.
The draft plan also includes goals to establish three public board workshops focusing on student achievement, budget development and program review.
RSF School District Vice President Tyler Seltzer said the plan seems necessary as during his time on the board there has been a development in the district and elsewhere in the way critics operate—he said there is a lot of time and coordination being spent in developing attacks on organizations.
“The level of sophistication of critics and negative attacks has ramped up tremendously,” Seltzer said. “The level of sophistication in responding…it’s warranted that we ramp that up as well.”
He said he’s not suggesting a public relations campaign or “sales pitches” but developing a plan for how the district communicates, and how frequently, will help.