Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Communications audit of school district finds need for strategic plan, improved approach to crises


Pelham residents associate the school district with high-quality academics, a variety of extracurricular opportunities and dedicated teachers, but there is a divide within the greater community and the school system needs a strategic communication plan, according to an audit of the district’s internal and external communications by the National School Public Relations Association.

Audrey Brahler, the lead auditor from NSPRA, presented the audit report at the board of education meeting on Sept. 28.

“The past few years have been marked by many challenges, including an increasingly divided community due to the political landscape, social unrest and safety concerns felt nationally,” said the report. “Steps to foster a sense of belonging for all students through the form of a voluntary equity audit drew considerable criticism upon release in 2020. Additionally, a series of both high profile and smaller-scale crises have caused reputational damage that has been difficult to overcome.”

In addition to developing a strategic communication plan, the report said the district should address the problems identified by implementing a crisis communication plan, strengthening the engagement of district staff members in decision making, expanding the capacity of the public information office and developing digital marketing strategies to improve message delivery.

The district has been looking to improve its communication outlets because “being able to effectively communicate with our stakeholders is critical,” said Alex Wolff, public information officer. To do this, the school board contracted for the audit report with NSPRA, which is a membership organization for school public relations staff.

As of right now, the school district communicates with families using various technologies, including Constant Contact and Infinite Campus.

To enhance digital messaging, the district planned to begin in early October using a new platform called Parent Square that will sync with Infinite Campus and offer optional notifications to parents through an app. The app will give the district greater functionality through email, text and phone messages by moving from two communication systems to one. Parent Square also allows families to set the language within the app, making it easier for non-English-speaking homes to receive district information.

The district will begin running a “climate survey… so we should get the results back end of January beginning of February,” said Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ. “Hopefully, there is some improvement in some” areas highlighted in the report.


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Annika Halvorson, Senior Editor
Annika is a junior at Pelham Memorial High School. She is a senator in the student association and a volleyball player. She is the president of the PMHS Chemistry Club, and is interested in coding and computer science. She enjoyed writing for a journalism fellowship at the start of highschool and looks forward to writing with the Pelham Examiner!

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