Getting the word out about schools is info official’s job

Staff Writer

By dave benjamin

Getting the word out about
schools is info official’s job

Teresa RaffertyTeresa Rafferty

Increasing communication between the Freehold Regional High School District and the community has been the primary goal of the district’s public information coordinator during her first year in that position.

Teresa Rafferty said that over the past year she has tried to develop proactive communication strategies.

"The purpose is to convince the public that their education dollars are being well spent," she said.

Rafferty’s job description includes being the liaison between the district and the community; communicating with representatives of the media; supervising a variety of publications for the district; and coordinating the district’s Web site.

"Research indicates that mass communications are good for reinforcing existing attitudes that people already have. If you want to change people’s attitudes, we rely on interpersonal communication," said Rafferty. "For that reason, the public information program combines both mass and interpersonal communication strategies."

Rafferty said that during her first year on the job it was the events that she participated in that gave her a good idea of the pulse of the district.

As the public information coordinator she participated as a member of the Land Acquisition Committee; the Superinten-dent’s Advisory Council; the Joint Presidents Council; and she attended parent meetings, municipal meetings in Howell, Farmingdale, Freehold Township and Manalapan; as well as budget information programs.

"I tried to visit each parent organization at least once during the year," she said. "I attended meetings of the Board of Education and I’ve developed relationships with my counterparts in our sending districts."

In the area of media relations, Rafferty noted that the quantity of newspaper articles about the district doubled in the past year.

"Newspaper and television in the district did make strides in covering our academic strengths," she said.

In the area of electronic communication, Rafferty assisted with the development of the district’s Web site, particularly with the writing of the content. She noted that the webmaster takes care of the technical aspects.

Rafferty said the Web site includes school board agendas, summaries, press releases, district background, courses of study, school closings, district newsletters and budget information.

The public information coordinator said her job took her outside of the district for presentations which were made about communicating during crisis situations and selling the school budget to both the national and the New Jersey School Public Relations Association, the Urban Boards Committee of the New Jersey School Boards Association, the New Jersey Association of Administrators, and the Monmouth County School Boards Association.

"The Freehold Regional High School District in the past year received an award of excellence from the New Jersey School Boards Association for its 1999 referendum brochure and an award of merit for the 2000 budget brochure from the national association," Rafferty reported.