Directors hear need for social media

The FBI and Tacoma School District do it. The White House, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the British Monarchy do it. So why shouldn’t the White River School District do it?

White River School District leaders Meagan Rhoades and Greg Borgerding were talking about social media – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr.

The pair pitched the district’s move into social media to the White River School Board at its Sept. 28 workshop.

“It’s where people are today,” Rhoades said, sharing statistics like Facebook with its 152 million active users.

It’s inexpensive. It’s safe and it’s not just a place for teens and ‘tweens, Rhoades said.

Borgerding and Rhoades said school districts use social media as a tool to promote the school district. Using Tweets and Facebook, districts can publicize student and district achievement, drive community members to its website, control its message, and send out alerts during emergency situations. For staff, it can open up the lines of collaboration, professional contacts and learning networks.

Borgerding, Glacier Middle School principal, said he’s excited. He said a 140-character Tweet once a week can quickly reach parents about schedule changes, school closures and sports and other activities.

“It’s just a quick get-information-out-there piece,” Borgerding said.

“We need to keep up to speed with our kids,” he said. Their parents, he added, are becoming younger and more tech savvy each year.

School board members asked about safety and liability.

Rhoades said very few districts report issues. Most, she said, see it as a positive thing for the district. But, she added, the district does have to be prepared to monitor it.

“Social media has to be constantly changed and updated,” Rhoades said. “You can’t post every three weeks, that’s not how it works.”

“We have to enter this arena,” Superintendent Tom Lockyer said. The district has already moved forward in some areas, but plans to form a committee to examine the issue closer.

“Whether we like it or not, or agree or not, it’s not going away,” Rhoades said

In other business, the board:

• was updated on the start of school at Glacier Middle School and White River High School.

WRHS started the year with 1,226 students – 313 seniors, 299 juniors, 309 sophomores and 305 freshman. Fifty-six of those students take part in Running Start.

Principal Mike Hagadone and assistant principals Lainey Mathews and Scott Harrison said 292 students are participating in fall sports, including Special Olympics and cheer, and 744 are involved with clubs.

“One in six boys are in the football program,” Harrison said.

He also mentioned the large number of students who are taking classes at White River and earning college credit. He said WRHS students have the potential to earn 10,613 credits from colleges like Pierce, Bates, Clover Park Technical, Green River, Tacoma, Central Washington and Washington State. He said using the average of $190 per college credit, these students’ credits would equal $2 million.

• approved a leave of absence for teacher Shauna Perez.

• approved the resignation of specialized paraeducator Karen Mauch.

• released teacher Jamie Carnino from her contract.

• hired AVID support specialists, school year only, Michelle Blanchard, Shelly Gorden, Cynthia Illman, Jeff Iunker, Joanna Marlow, Terry Moller, Nicole Reynolds and Catherine Uhler; longterm substitute custodian Jason Uhls; longterm substitute specialized paraeducator Carol Holtz; longterm substitute health clerk Ashley Jameson; and child nutrition worker/casher Erin Horaski.