Another NSPRA SuccesStory — Racine Unified School District

NSPRA’s Gold Medallion Award is the highest award given by the Association in recognition of outstanding educational public relations programs. This is the fifth in a series highlighting the 2018 winners.

Gold Medallion Winner —
Racine Unified School District
My School. My Choice.

Closing a school building or changing attendance zones can bring out fierce opposition in a school community. In 2017-18, Racine Unified School District proposed both and then some as part of a major middle school transformation set for 2018-19. Through research-informed communication strategies and tactics, the “My School. My Choice.” campaign successfully turned potential opponents into leaders and supporters of RUSD’s new concept for its boundary and choice middle schools.

RUSD’s journey of transformation was prompted by challenges such as declining enrollment, inefficient use of facilities and negative perceptions of its middle schools. The district conducted research to determine what its families wanted — more choices and opportunities, safe and engaging learning environments, challenging curriculum to prepare students for college or careers — and what its middle schools needed to meet those desires.

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Leaders then developed a transformation plan that included moving a school to a different building, closing an existing middle school, combining a high performing elementary school with a low performing middle school to create a K-8 building, and redistricting all middle schools. As part of developing that plan, the district held a Kaizen event (Lean Six Sigma) that brought together key stakeholders for an intense, five-day focus on the issues. Participants included administrators, teachers, school leaders, union representatives, parents and a middle school student.

This early focus on engaging all stakeholders continued throughout the rollout of communications on the middle school transformation. Some examples of the district’s awareness and engagement tactics include branding development; media relations; print and online materials; movie theatre, radio, digital and print ads; fliers; magnets; and special events.

In one measure of campaign success, the district saw a 212 percent increase in the number of students making a middle school choice during its annual school choice enrollment window.

Read more about this award-winning campaign.

Contact: Stacy Tapp, Chief of Communication & Community Engagement, Racine Unified School District,