Regional Chapter Reports: July 2018

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Southwest Region Chapters Report - July 2018

Trent Allen, APR, Southwest Region Vice President

 

Arizona School Public Relations Association (ASPRA)

Kim Mesquita, President

Chapter well-being

Wow, what an exciting year for ASPRA. We have several new members who have joined us this year. Most have been replacing a person who left a PR position within a particular district, but we have a few district who have decided to add to the fold and create a PR position. Over this past year, the executive board had regular meetings, sometimes communicating and collaborating as a group several times a month. Those in charge of programs presented six professional development opportunities for members that were quite successful and relevant.  

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Change in bylaws (completed and will be sent to NSPRA soon); Revamped our award nomination process (completed by a committee); Change in membership criteria (ongoing)

Professional development programs/activities

We just finished our two-day statewide conference, which was held in Tucson, AZ. We had a record number in attendance (80). Attendees were treated to two keynote speakers, best practices within rebranding, how to handle media when you go viral, navigating the search for a new superintendent, crisis communication, digital storytelling, structuring social media accounts, walkout conversations, communicating with parents digitally, design thinking, and online and uncivil discourse. 

Major chapter issues or concerns

We feel that we are still recovering from our recent teacher walkout. We are still feeling some of the effects associated with this event. As well, we are also trying to be proactive and anticipate and prepare for possible future activities that may follow. We still have many requests from outside organizations asking to become members. This year we started working on revising membership criteria. Although we did not get as far as we had hoped, the discussion with the executive board was to continue the conversation and reconvene the committee during the next year. 

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Sharing other chapters membership criteria with us could be helpful. As well, continuing to share tools and toolkits are always helpful. 

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Vouchers; Teacher walkouts; School Choice (will Amazon soon be offering a public school system – laugh now, but…) 

Additional items of note

None.

 

California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA)

President Nathan Quevedo

Chapter well-being

CalSPRA is poised to become a model chapter for NSPRA. In the past year, CalSPRA has broken records in membership, conference attendance and sponsorship dollars from vendors. Membership is currently at 364 individuals, the 2018 Annual Seminar in San Diego had nearly 200 members and non-members in attendance with sponsorship at nearly $50,000 for the seminar. The Executive Board meets monthly with the extended board and has special meetings when needed. CalSPRA is thriving fiscally and will meet this summer at the annual board retreat to discuss ways to expand its capacity to better server members. 

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Since California is such a large state, there are regional chairs in Sothern California, Northern California and the Bay Area that coordinate networking and professional development events. CalSPRA is working to collaborate with the California Small School District Association, California County Superintendents Association, among others, to increase membership and serve more school districts, especially those that do not currently have a school communications professional.  

Professional development programs/activities

Regional chairs coordinate networking and professional development events in crisis communication, social media and the basics of school communications for new professionals. In May, more than a dozen CalSPRA members attended an APR preparation session in Sacramento hosted by the CalSPRA APR Chair Naomi Hunter. Bay Area Regional Chair Michelle Smith-McDonald is planning an event this fall with a focus on crisis communications with Central Valley and SoCal events planned for next Spring.

Major chapter issues or concerns

While there are no major struggles, the Board is exploring ways to increase the capacity of the organization with the possibility of a paid staff member. 

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Nothing to report at this time

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

School safety, immigration policies and uncertainty about education policy at the federal level impact communication efforts for CalSPRA members. There has been an enormous uptick in threats threw phone calls and social media by students and the district and law enforcement take each one seriously. California has a large migrant population, and some districts have seen declining enrollment and/or higher levels of truancy because parents are afraid they will get detained by ICE if they take their child to school. There is much uncertainty, especially with the recent announcement of the reorganization of the Department of Education, on what the future of public schools will look like. 

Additional items of note

Nothing to report at this time.

 

Colorado School Public Relations Association (CoSPRA)

No report submitted.

 

Utah School Public Relations Association (USPRA)

No report submitted.


South Central Region Chapters Report - July 2018

Tony Heaberlin, APR, South Central Regional Vice President

 

Arkansas School Public Relations Association (ArkaNSPRA)

No report submitted.

 

Kansas School Public Relations Association (KanSPRA)

No report submitted.

 

Missouri School Public Relations Association (MOSPRA) 

Paul Tandy, APR, President and David Luther, Executive Director

Chapter well-being

MOSPRA is a thriving chapter with healthy financials and strong membership base. The current membership count sits at 203 members statewide.  This is up from 191 in June 2017.  We have added a “Business Associate Membership” which accounts for part of our growth.  The state chapter is divided into four regions (Eastern, Mid-State, Ozark and Western) with monthly meetings scheduled in each area providing professional development opportunities for members. 

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

MOSPRA Board Completes Comprehensive Update of Association Strategic Plan
The MOSPRA Board, along with committee chairs and key members, met in February 2018 for their annual Winter Retreat.  The primary focus on the meeting was to study, revise, and update the Strategic Plan.  The revised plan is posted at this link:  https://mo07000634.schoolwires.net/cms/lib/MO07000634/Centricity/Domain/...

Sponsorship Program

MOSPRA currently has annual sponsors with Blackboard, SchoolMessenger, PeachJar, MarketVolt, and Thought Exchange. The partnerships are rewarding not only for MOSPRA but for the sponsors, as they are able to build relationships and create top of mind awareness with our members. 

Colleague Connections

MOSPRA established Colleague Connections to provide support, learning and professional growth opportunities for new members by establishing a collaborative, professional relationship with a MOSPRA colleague. New MOSPRA members are provided with a professional, confidential resource of school communication expertise during the first year as a member.

Document Vault

MOSPRA houses a protected document vault on our website. We ask that MOSPRA members who have participated in the MOSPRA Communications Contest submit their work from the past 2-3 years. We also ask members to submit communication plans (both comprehensive and issue specific), informational campaign work samples, crisis communication samples (including letters home), procedures for social media, and any presentations. The Executive Director also collects materials from a closed Facebook page that he facilitates (see below).  The submissions are added to the vault for all members to have accessibility to the information whenever needed.  

Social Media

Several months ago, MOSPRA Executive Director, David Luther, launched a closed Facebook page for school communications professionals.  Most members of the page are from Missouri, but there are others from across the country (and world).  This site is very active with members posting questions and providing helpful insights on a daily basis.  The association also has a closed Facebook page for those who participated in last year’s PR Boot Camp.  Finally, there is the open MOSPRA Facebook page for general information and to spotlight outstanding work by members.

At the Winter Retreat, the MOSPRA Board determined to created Social Media Standards.  A subcommittee will work on this during the 2018-19 school year.

Professional development programs/activities

APR Study Group

MOSPRA member, Stephanie Smith, APR, along with others, has developed an outstanding and ongoing program to help members work towards their APR.  MOSPRA has had 3 members gain their APR within the last year and is on track to have up to seven (7) members attain the APR by summer 2018.

Fall Conference 

The 2017 annual MOSPRA Fall Conference was held November 2-3 in St. Louis (St. Charles, Missouri). The conference focused on “Marketing and the Customer Mindset.” Past NSPRA President, Jim Cummings, APR, was the featured speaker.  

Spring Conference 

The 2018 annual MOSPRA Spring Conference was held at Lake of the Ozarks, April 4-6 in joint partnership with Missouri Association of School Administrators. MOSPRA is allotted nine sessions to present to our members and also Missouri superintendents.  This year NSPRA President, Tom DeLapp, joined us and provided a special session.

Regional Outreach/Sub-Regions (AKA “Rogue” Group) 

MOSPRA has expanded its “Rogue” (sub-regional) groups to five.  Three are thriving (West Central, Southeast and Jefferson County) and two are getting started (Northwest and North Central).  These groups allow those who cannot easily make meetings in the metro areas to still share time and ideas with their colleagues.  The groups meet each quarter.  

Major chapter issues or concerns

No major concerns.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

The 2018 legislative session concluded May 18.  Public Education came through amazingly unscathed with vouchers, charter school expansion and a destructive Reading bill all failing to gain traction.  The legislative session was overshadowed by Governor Eric Greitens’ multiple scandals.  Ah, life at the Capitol.

 

Oklahoma School Public Relations Association (OKSPRA)

Cara Adney, President

Chapter well-being

  • Our year ended with 66 members. This is a sharp decline over the last decade. Membership growth and membership communication are top priorities of the incoming officer team. 
  • We have a monthly communication plan that includes membership emails and social media strategy.
  • Officers will meet June 14 to discuss critical elements of the organization including developing a strategic plan, creating a budget, increasing membership dues, and communications awards. 
  • Following NSPRA the officer team will meet again to discuss topics for quarterly OKSPRA meetings and the spring conference. 
  • The addition of Joshua Sauer to the OKSPRA board has been/will continue to be invaluable concerning membership recruitment and engagement. 

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

  • We are collaborating with the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administrators. A member of their staff has joined our board and we have been offered a booth at their Summer Conference. During this event, we will be able to connect with potential members and collect email addresses for membership recruitment. We are also exploring partnering with them to bring in a speaker. OKSPRA members will be able to attend at a discounted rate. 

Professional development programs/activities

  • OKSPRA has quarterly meetings, with our final meeting being our Spring Conference. 
  • We understand that attending the NSPRA Seminar is not an option for a majority of OKSPRA members. My goal is to bring the best of NSPRA to the quarterly OKSPRA meetings. Officers will meet after the NSPRA Seminar to plan meeting content based on speakers and topics that were available at the conference. We will also rely on the expertise of our members for meeting content.

Major chapter issues or concerns

  • The biggest issue for our chapter is creating a strategic plan and budget. The officer team is meeting to discuss both of these issues. We are also making concerted efforts to increase sponsorships. 
  • Communication with members is also a top concern. Members will receive monthly emails from the President that will provide chapter updates, NSPRA updates/resources, reminders of upcoming meetings and best practices in school PR. 

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

  • NA. The leader’s meeting at NSPRA will be a great networking opportunity.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

  • The teacher work stoppage of February 2018 continues to be top of mind across the state and nation.

Additional items of note

  • N/A

 

Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA)

Linsae Snider, Executive Director and Board

Chapter well-being

  • Membership has increased to approximately 900 members. 
  • A two-day Executive Committee meeting took place in Austin on June 13-14, 2018.
  • 2018-2020 Organizational Goals have been developed and approved.
  • TSPRA will end FY 2017-2018 with $305,000+ in savings, $100,000+ in long-term investment funds, an operational budget of almost 600,000 and net profit for the year looks to be approximately $115,000.  
  • The TSPRA Executive Committee approved a $575,000 operating budget for FY 2018-2019.
  • 2018-2019 Opportunities for Participation will be developed in July and sponsorship solicitations will launch no later than August.
  • Members continue to express satisfaction with the new member management system, Member 365, and the awards system, Open Water, for entering and judging of Star Awards.  Open Water is also the platform for entering nominations for our professional awards and scholarships.
  • Four of our nine regions conduct monthly meetings with attendance between 15-50, depending on the date and location.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

  • We proudly launched a new logo at our annual conference in February.  Rebranding efforts and production of print collateral continues.
  • Since March, the state office has published 21 EduLege’s, 14 eNewsletters, six eBlasts and posted 25+ communications related positions on our website, in addition to weekly Facebook postings (729 likes) and twitter messages (2832 followers).
  • The 2018-2019 Strategic Planning Committee created goals, objectives and initiatives for 2018-2020. The budget committee met on April 25, 2018. The Executive Director’s Evaluation Committee conducted the annual ED performance with a conference on June 13, 2018, the scholarship committee made recommendations for scholarship offerings, and the Professional Awards Committee is accepting nominations for the Key Communicator Award through June 28, 2018 and will select the 2018 Key Communicator by July 20, 2018.  The CTPS Committee will devote the upcoming school year to researching a possible new direction for the program that will result in increased member involvement.
  • Kristin Zastoupil, TSPRA President, has made all committee appointments for the 2018-2019 school year.
  • The Past Presidents’ Council is working with a jeweler to create a new design and mold for the President’s ring, pendant, and pin.
  • TSPRA is assisting TASB with journalists writing on specific topics of interest.
  • We are exploring a networking/member discussion forum similar to the one NSPRA is using and should have a system operational by the fall.
  • We are exploring means for developing an on-line professional development database/library for member access.

Professional development programs/activities

  • One new APR was pinned during the first general session of the 2018 TSPRA Conference – Sheleah Reed, APR, Houston ISD. 
  • Six TSPRA members will complete the Texas Christian University Certified Public Communicator (TCU-CPC) cohort in July and another four TSPRA members will begin year one of the two-year program in July.
  • The 2018 annual TSPRA Conference was held February 19-22, 2018, in Frisco, Texas with 693 in attendance, 1332 Star Awards entries, 143 attending preconference sessions and 480 attendees at the Star Awards Banquet, emceed by Tim Carroll, APR, along with 45 exhibitors.
  • Only one Spoken Word Media session (providing media and crisis communications training) was delivered during this fiscal year training 38 individuals.
  • Two legal webinars were scheduled with only four TSPRA members in attendance.
  • The executive director, president, president-elect and approximately 50+ TSPRA members will be attending the NSPRA conference in California.  
  • Planning is underway for the 2019 annual conference.  The conference schedule has been determined to include one keynoter, 40 concurrent sessions, 40 roundtables, a “job alike” strand, “timely topic” strand and plenty of networking opportunities. The theme is, “”Camp Communication.” The conference logo appears at the bottom of this report. An invitation will be extended to Tony Heaberlin, NSPRA South Central Vice President, to join us.  #CampCommunication  #tspra19
  • TSPRA has been invited to provide communications related presentations to TASA new superintendents, Texas State University Superintendent Cohort Groups and at the TASA Summer Leadership Institute.

Major chapter issues or concerns

  • Same song, second, third and fourth verse…
  • Voucher legislation has not died in Texas.
  • Charter schools.  Should we say more?
  • School finance is of major concern and our legislature just does not want to support public education.
  • TRS insurance is receiving little to no help from state funding and teachers are literally paying and entire paycheck in premiums if they are carrying their families while retired teachers are choosing between medical needs and food.  Really!
  • A small group of about eleven wealthy individuals – Empower Texas – is trying to “buy” their way to state control and are huge lending huge financial support to the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, agriculture commission and other high level officials to the tune of millions of dollars.  They are now attempting to influence local politics in communities where they don’t even reside.   
  • Most of the education associations are supporting an initiative – Texas Educators Vote (TEV) launching a campaign to encourage teachers/educators to vote in a state among the lowest voter turnout in the nation.  It has been a challenge in a state that is predominantly Republican and it is this party supporting vouchers little support to public education.  TEV is deliberately following all laws in an effort to educate educators with resistance from the Empower Texas group who is throwing cease ad desist orders where attempts are being made.
  • Not a concern – we are seeing a trend that as more 5A and 6A associate superintendents are being hired as first time superintendents in 4A and 3A districts, they are creating communications departments.  We recognize this as aspiring school leaders realizing the benefits of such departments and professionals and finding resources to employ them.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

  • Charter schools continue to be a threat to our larger, more urban school districts.  While still considered public schools, it becomes increasingly difficult to help the public understand that charter schools are allowed to operate with a different set of governance policies.
  • Texas coastal areas are still trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey.  The state is allowing some exemptions for affected areas, but not nearly at the level anticipated.
  • There were a multitude of online testing issues again this year.
  • Texas Education Agency has been under attack for placing a cap on the number of students identified as needing special education services.  It has caused tension between districts and the state agency.
  • We are fighting a trend of superintendents hiring non-communications professionals for heads of the department – rather giving the position to the next person in line “promised” a cabinet position.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

  • Our biggest issue is a Senate who does not support public education, the risk of vouchers, school finance issues and continued student growth in the state.  Safety in our schools continues to be a topic of discussion.
  • Matters of safety – Texas suffered two tragic mass-shootings this school year – Santa Fe ISD and Southerland Springs (affecting several smaller school districts – Floresville, LaVernia). 

Southeast Region Chapters Report - July 2018

Jason Gaston, APR, Southeast Region Vice President

 

Alabama School Public Relations Association (ALSPRA)

Cindy Warner, APR, President  

Chapter well-being

The Alabama School Public Relations Association currently has 52 active members.  The chapter will hold its annual membership drive from August-October 2018.  The chapter holds quarterly meetings in March, June, October and December, with the March meeting usually designated as the annual state conference meeting.  Membership has remained steady over the past several years.  The chapter currently has a bank balance of $13,618.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

ALSPRA presented its annual Excellence in Communications Awards on March 1 in conjunction with the annual conference. ALSPRA President Cindy Warner, APR was awarded the Nez Calhoun Distinguished Service Award, an ALSPRA member for his or her commitment and dedication to the organization and to the profession. Typically, this member has gone above and beyond the call to support ALSPRA and its members.  ALSPRA VP of Professional Development Whitlee Lusk was awarded Community of the Year, which recognizes an ALSPRA member for outstanding work in the field of public relations prior to and during the previous year.  Dr. Kathy Murphy, Superintendent of Education for Hoover City Schools was awarded the Outstanding Leadership in School/Community Relations Award, which recognizes an individual, other than those directly responsible for Public Relations, who has proven himself or herself to be a leader in using effective school/community relations to build support for public education in his or her community.  Various school districts across the state were also honored for their work through the Publications Awards Contest, including Auburn City Schools, Eufaula City Schools, Jefferson County Schools, Pelham City Schools, Trussville City Schools, and Vestavia City Schools.

Professional development/program activities

ALSPRA held its Spring 2017 conference March 1 in Alabaster, AL.  The meeting was sponsored by Foxbright, Blackboard and Remind 101.  The keynote speaker for the event was NSPRA President Tom DeLapp, who presented two sessions - “What to Do When the Whole World is Watching - Handling High Profile Incidents” and “Being Your Own Wire Service in the Era of Fake News.”  The meeting also featured a kickoff activity on improving creativity and memory through Sketchnoting presented by Beth Fuller, Shelby County Schools Reading Coach.  Dane Dellenbach with Blackboard presented a vendor-sponsored session on “Understanding Your Brand Through Your Parents Eyes” and Carter Myers with Remind 101 presented a session on implementation of their district platform to monitor text usage and engagement. 

The summer quarterly meeting was held June 21 at Innovation Depot in Birmingham.  The meeting was sponsored by Plant Fundraiser. Whitlee Lusk (Jefferson County Schools) presented a session on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Spark. Cindy Warner, APR (Shelby County Schools) presented a session on developing Strategic Marketing Plans for schools, which was also a featured topic in the NSPRA May Network Newsletter.  

Cindy Warner, APR will be presenting a session at the NSPRA Seminar on Developing Holding Statements to use for Crisis Communications.  Lesley Bruinton, APR, is a featured pre-seminar speaker.  She will be presenting a one-day workshop on RACE to a Plan in One Day: A Four-Step Approach to Building a Strategic Communication Plan. 

Future professional development plans for the Chapter include embedded APR study sessions that will be incorporated into the quarterly meetings. This is based on interest from several ALSPRA members who want to begin the process of achieving their APR certification. Current APRs will assist with the Study Sessions, which will include an emphasis on the APR Study Guide and related reading materials.  The large portion of upcoming meetings will be devoted to these study sessions. 

Major chapter issues or concerns

ALSPRA as a chapter is not struggling with any particular issue, but we continue to monitor issues that impact our state including the recent selection of Eric Mackey as the new state superintendent, adequate funding for education, the push for expansion of charter schools, changes to state assessments, etc… Alabama’s federal plan for educating students under the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) was also recently approved by US Sec of Education Betsy DeVoss. 

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

The new NSPRA online Forum has been a very helpful and useful tool for sharing information and ideas!

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Alabama recently passed a bill that will allow trained administrators to be armed at school. Alabama school administrators, who get approval from local authorities and go through training, will be permitted to have guns at schools under a new state program. Administrators who meet the requirements would be able to "use lethal force to defend the students, faculty, staff, and visitors of his or her school from the threat of imminent bodily harm or death by an armed intruder."

 

North Carolina School Public Relations Association (NCSPRA)

Todd Hagans, President

Chapter well-being

The North Carolina School Public Relations Association (NCSPRA) experienced an extremely successful year in 2017-2018.  Our most notable accomplishments were an increase in membership, higher revenue, and more interest in our professional development programs.  Our three revenue-generating programs – fall conference, Blue Ribbon Awards, and Final Four professional development series – did just that, thus making our Association fiscally strong for the year ahead.  

From our perspective, morale among our members is positive, and their interest in NCSPRA has generated great energy and led to a genuine sense of family and fellowship within the Association.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

In April, NCSPRA partnered with the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) to provide a professional development retreat for people in the field of school public relations/communications.  In retreat style, the free, two-day program offered informational sessions and interactive activities for school PR professionals who are new or relatively new to the job (1-3 years). 

In addition to six sessions, the agenda included time for reflection, an opportunity for participants to discuss their successes and challenges for the current school year, and seek information about what they can do to make their job easier in the year ahead.

The primary goals were: 

  • To kindle stronger support between NCSPRA and our new/relatively new school PR professionals.
  • Introduce school PR professionals to NCCAT and bring attention to the programs and services offered by NCCAT.
  • Foster collaboration and networking among school PR professionals in North Carolina.

We had 31 people to participate in the program, which was the inaugural event for our NCSPRA Leadership Academy.  Eventually, all of our professional development programs will be part of the NCSPRA Leadership Academy.

Professional development/program activities

In the year ahead (2018-2019), we plan to continue efforts to provide additional professional development activities as part of the NCSPRA Leadership Academy.  These activities include our fall conference in October (in partnership with SC-NSPRA) and Final Four professional development series, two programs that are a tradition for NCSPRA.  We also want to host a Winter Workshop, sponsor at least two webinars, revamp our online resources portal, and partner with other organizations such as NCCAT and the N.C. Association of School Administrators (NCASA) to enhance professional development.

Major chapter issues or concerns

None at this time.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

None at this time.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

In North Carolina, public education continues to be a “hot topic” issue.  School districts continue to struggle with adequate funding as the state legislature continues to divert funds from traditional public schools to charter schools and “opportunity scholarships” (vouchers).  With that said, the state legislature has provided an increase in teacher and principal pay for 2018-2019.  The November general election will be an important one for our state as every N.C. House and N.C. Senate seat is a contested race.

Additional items of note

Noteworthy items from NCSPRA:

  • The NCSPRA Board of Directors will conduct its summer planning retreat June 24-26 in Lake Lure.  The retreat will give the NCSPRA officers and Board members an opportunity to make plans for the 2018-2019 year.
  • The Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve a contract for Chris Fuller to serve as our executive director for 2018-2019.  Chris provides important support for NCSPRA and plays a significant role in our continued success.
  • A positive for NCSPRA is consistency in leadership for 2018-2019.  The officers and a majority of the Board members will remain the same (we are welcoming two new Board members for 2018-2019).

 

South Carolina School Public Relations Association (SCSPRA)

Jonathan Graves, President

Chapter well-being

SC/NSPRA just completed a very exciting and successful year! Our increases in membership and members attending our meetings was tremendous. We completed the year with a total membership of 141 members who have an active, retired, affiliate, or institutional status. Our finances are in excellent shape thanks to a terrific membership drive and strong attendance at our state meetings. We believe the increase in membership and attendance at our state meetings can be attributed to our new online system which allows individuals to pay for renewals and registrations electronically.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

In September, we had a very successful Back to School meeting in Columbia. We collaborated with our State Department representatives to host the meeting and provided attendees with excellent topics. For the first time ever, we hosted a school supply drive during the meeting. School supplies were collected and separated by region at the meeting. The supplies were donated back to a school who was affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Professional Development/Program Activities

Our joint fall conference with NCSPRA was a major success on October 25th-October 27th in Asheville, NC. Registrations for the conference were literally through the roof! NCSPRA had to open an additional room block at a nearby hotel just to accommodate all of our attendees. This conference always provides attendees with a chance to network and also gain valuable information from some of the best school communicators in our business. SC/NSPRA looks forward to hosting the conference on October 12th-14th at the Marriott Resort Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Ladies and gentlemen, Start Your Engines! On Friday, February 23rd, we hosted our annual Winter Drive-in meeting at the Darlington Raceway Media Center in Darlington, SC. Attendees were provided with plenty of great photo opportunities at this historic race track and excellent topics from a variety of speakers. We also hosted a sock & blanket drive during this meeting. Items collected during the meeting were donated back to Carolina’s Kids, a non-profit that serves the students of Darlington County Schools.

In April, the Rewards for Excellence luncheon provided our organization an opportunity to recognize excellence in school communications. The luncheon featured NSPRA President Tom Delapp as our keynote speaker. Over 199 Rewards for Excellence entries were submitted by schools and school districts in our state. For the first time ever, individuals could go online to submit their entries. Entries were judged and scored to determine our award winners for the annual luncheon held in Columbia.

The luncheon also gave us the opportunity to recognize Kershaw County Communications Director Mary Anne Byrd and Kershaw County Superintendent Frank Morgan as our Communicator and Administrator of the Year. These two awards were created to highlight school communications professionals and superintendents who have shown hard work, dedication, and commitment to school communications.

Major chapter issues or concerns

We would like to see more buy-in from our regional contacts within SC/NSPRA. Our organization is separated into three regions: Upstate, Midlands, and Lowcountry. We have members within our organization who serve as contacts for these regions. We would like to see more networking and professional development opportunities offered in each region. SC/NSPRA provides opportunities for all members, but we believe we could potentially be missing some school communicators in smaller districts.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

It would be helpful if NSPRA could assist us with these efforts. I know that support is provided at the state level, but it would be wonderful to see NSPRA focus support and resources to regions within each state. SC/NSPRA would be willing to assist in anyway with making these connections. We are thrilled to see our membership increase for NSPRA and this might be a great initiative to get more buy-in for the organization.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Issues that are currently affecting school communicators in our state include: 

  • Web Accessibility
  • Changes in FOIA laws
  • Cybersecurity
  • Video-Surveillance
  • Social Media Policies

We have plans to address some of these topics and hot button issues by providing webinars to our members, but any support NSPRA could provide on any of these topics would be greatly appreciated.

Additional items of note

SC/NSPRA appreciates the support NSPRA provides to our organization, and we look forward to partnering with NSPRA to begin new initiatives for our organization!

 

Georgia School Public Relations Association (GSPRA)

J.D. Hardin, President

Chapter well-being

The Georgia School Public Relations Association has maintained a steady course over the past year.  This includes membership numbers holding firm with just over 80 members and a healthy financial outlook.  Our board held regular monthly meetings both in-person and via teleconference.  The annual fall conference continues to be our biggest draw for our member, but we incorporated a one-day spring conference this year with success.  There are other items of interest to the board which include the addition of a finance committee in response to an issue our chapter faced at the end of the calendar year for our association (more information listed below).

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

GSPRA continues to be a supporter of the SPARK Campaign/Initiative in Georgia with the goal of helping spread the positive news of school/education to Georgians statewide. 

Professional development/program activities

GSPRA’s biggest professional development effort encompasses the annual conference.  This one and a half-day conference in the fall allows for speakers and breakout sessions for members to hear from experts on the latest trends, topics, and legal matters that impact our jobs.  Our board did attempt to expand the professional development opportunities to our membership this year by adding a one-day spring conference.  This particular event was held at a different location from the fall conference to allow for easier access for some people who may have issues with travel due to the size of the state.

Major chapter issues or concerns

The major concern we have dealt with this past year involved the discovery of fraudulent activity with our finances.  We were able to uncover the matter that pointed directly at our treasurer at the time and just over $2,500 missing through forged checks and unapproved ACH draft payments for non-GSPRA items.  Quick action was taken by the president and president-elect at the time, along with the assistance of other members of the board, to notify law enforcement and recover the stolen funds.  Our general fund stands replenished and healthy.  The person responsible for the fraudulent activity was permanently removed from the organization after a vote by the board.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

NSPRA’s quick action/response to our fraudulent activity discovery in April of 2018 was extremely valuable during that time period.  Other than that, there has not been anything else identified by our current board that rises to the level of needing support at this time.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Nothing comes to mind at this time.  We do have our state elections for constitutional officers this year in Georgia, but there are not major legislative actions that seem to infringe on communication efforts/abilities.

 

Mississippi School Public Relations Association (MSPRA)

Sandi Beason, President

Chapter well-being

The Mississippi chapter is on solid footing. After a year of being stagnant, we now have a strong board in place and our Awards of Excellence and Summer Conference are well underway. We are currently receiving membership renewals and award entries, but our checking account balance is ~$11,000 and ~$8,000 in savings.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

During the 2017-18 school year, MSPRA held the following activities:

  • Board elections (December 2017; officers installed in January 2018)
  • Joint conference with the Mississippi Association of School Administrators (March 2017)
  • Collaborating with the South Carolina chapter to judge our Awards of Excellence (underway now)
  • Partnering with the state’s largest education association, the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents, for a joint summer conference (July 2018)

Professional development/program activities

Spring conference sessions included:

  • APR prep and follow-through, led by Kristie Aylett, APR
  • Keynote presentation by Tom DeLapp, APR
  • Best practices “gold nugget” session

Summer conference sessions will include:

  • Communications in mass crisis situations, led by Sandi Beason, APR, and FBI External Affairs Officer Brett Carr
  • Harnessing social media for dynamic professional development, led by Sean Owen from Mississippi State University
  • Best practices “gold nugget” session

Major chapter issues or concerns

We have overcome our biggest hurdles and gotten the chapter back on track. This has been a great year partnering with other associations and restructuring our calendar and activities. Our vice president, Geri Hill, is currently working on a slate of officers for 2018-19, and I believe she will do a great job as MSPRA’s next president. 

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Thank you for your support this school year as we rebuilt our chapter. I appreciate the NSPRA staff and our regional VP Jason Gaston for your guidance and encouragement throughout this process!

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Thank you for offering the NSPRA Connect forums. I have encouraged all MSPRA chapter members to join NSPRA and take advantage of this and other services. Through the forum, we can chat with our colleagues in other districts throughout the nation about common issues we face. I’ve found this to be a great way to learn from each other and find best practices for a wide range of communication issues. 

The biggest issues facing the districts in our chapter are funding/resources, workforce development, social media management/community relations, and teacher recruitment. 

 

Tennessee School Public Relations Association (TNSPRA)

Anthony Johnson, President

Chapter well-being

The president and president-elect have had several conversations regarding recruitment, and this will be an ongoing opportunity for refinement. The soon-to-be past-president and soon-to-be president will both be attending the leadership session on Sunday morning at NSPRA and will continue conversations on opportunities to improve.

We are hoping the transition from TASC to TNSPRA will improve our identity and recognition with others across the state to improve recruitment. Our secretary/treasurer is exploring different vendors and avenues to develop a website that also improves our status.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Please see item 3. 

Professional development/program activities

On Friday, March 2, TNSPRA held a spring professional learning conference. We had over 40 attendees, which is a large increase from the past few years. There was a lot of positive feedback from longstanding members, and we had new members in attendance who were very appreciative of the time to collaborate and grow. Below was the agenda.

9:00-9:15 Welcome and Introductions Anthony & Carly
9:15-9:30 Business Anthony & Carly
9:30-9:45 Regional Updates & NSPRA 2018 Jason Gaston, APR
9:45-10:15 “Old Media, New Media and Being Your Own Newsroom” James Evans, APR
10:30-11:00 “Transparency to Engagement” Kate Crowder
11:00-11:30 Open Discussion: Social Media & Multimedia Various
11:30-12:30 Lunch Maggiano’s 
12:30-1:00 Open Discussion: Safety, Custody, and Communication Various
1:00-2:00 Crisis Communication Mimi Bliss, http://www.blisscommunications.net/
2:00-3:00 What Matters to You? Anthony & Carly 

Major chapter issues or concerns

As with the October and February updates, the chapter continues to struggle with engagement, especially in the eastern and western portions of the state. Middle Tennessee has the majority of largest districts in the state (Metro Nashville, Williamson, CMCSS, Rutherford, etc.) and most meetings and networking opportunities occur in Nashville because of its central location. While Nashville is a short drive for most districts in the middle, it can be a 3-5 hour drive for eastern and western districts. The president-elect is from East Tennessee, so we hope her insight will help us to improve in this area. 

We started a closed Facebook group in March that allows members to communicate and collaborate with ease and comfort.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

We feel like NSPRA is doing an effective job of providing articles, research, training, and support to help communications professionals with today’s challenges. We look forward to NSPRA 2018 in Anaheim! Jason Gaston was at our March 2 conference to encourage TASC members to attend. Right now, it looks like we have 20 Tennesseans attending the conference, which is a great number considering some of the budget concerns many of our districts have been facing!

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Tennessee is seeing growth, so many districts are dealing with overcrowding, funding, construction, organizational changes, and the other challenges experienced with growth. Additionally, we are struggling with many of the same challenges observed across the nation: teacher shortages, bus driver shortages, the student mental health crisis, the opioid epidemic, continued concerns over school safety, parent and community engagement, the current political climate, and the ever-changing technology landscape. 

Additional items of note

You could not ask for a better Regional VP than Jason Gaston!! He has been a terrific advisor, mentor, champion and friend. I will miss working with him in the president-Regional VP relationship, but look forward to being lifelong friends and professional collaborators!

 

Florida School Public Relations Association (SUNSPRA)

Kevin Christian, APR, President 

Chapter well-being

SUNSPRA remains active, currently with 71 members on the roster.  

Fiscally, we are sound thanks to supportive sponsorships from major national names including Blackboard and Peachjar.  Over the last four years, SUNSPRA has also concentrated on building its bank balance.  As of this report, we have $22,778 in the bank. Major expenses for executive director and awards will come out of that amount, so our operating balance should stand around the $15,000 mark as of July 1, 2018. 

In January 2018, SUNSPRA took on new leadership and a fresh approach.  However, due to extenuating family circumstances, that leader abruptly resigned six weeks later.  Immediate Past President Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC, resumed leadership and continues as of this report. 

Original Chapter goals and objectives for 2017-18 include:

Goal #1:  Promote SUNSPRA as Florida’s leading source of school PR professional development

Objective #1:  Offer two face-to-face professional development sessions from and for SUNSPRA members over the next 12 months (December & June) 

STATUS:  Met and exceeded by 50 percent.  SUNSPRA presented on effective social media use at the FSBA Joint Conference in Tampa Bay on November 29, 2017.  SUNSPRA also handed out two major awards – Outstanding Superintendent Communicator of the Year and the Margie Davidson Leading Light Award -- during the luncheon session on Wednesday, November 29.  SUNSPRA also presented at the Florida Association of School Administrators (FASA) Conference on June 14, 2018 in Palm Harbor. Topics included utilizing social media for better school communications and a follow-up, “lessons learned” type presentation from a consultant working with Broward County Public Schools following the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.  Finally, SUNSPRA handed out nine Medallion Awards and one “Best of Show” at this same conference.   
SUNSPRA’s Greg Turchetta (Collier County Schools) presents on the latest social media successes in his district, commonly called #tweetchers!

Objective #2:  Offer two Internet-based professional development sessions for SUNSPRA members over the next 12 months

STATUS: no movement on this objective; not achieved. 

Goal #2:  Strengthen SUNSPRA membership by attracting new districts 

Objective:  Increase membership by 5 percent (3 new members and 70 overall) during the next 12 months

STATUS:  met and exceeded.  Current membership roster stands at 71. 

Goal #3:  Maintain SUNSPRA funding by securing national sponsors

Objective #1:  secure at least 3 national sponsors for the 2017-18 membership year

STATUS:  Confirmed Blackboard and Peachjar as exclusive awards sponsors.  

Objective #2:  increase SUNSPRA treasury by at least $5,000 in the 2017-18 chapter year

STATUS: met and exceeded by 60 percent. 

Goal #4:  Increase value of membership by adding accredited / credentialed opportunities

Objective #1:  offer the APR credential webinar this chapter year with at least two SUNSPRA members participating

STATUS: APR materials and opportunities regularly shared with members. 

UPDATE: Minimal interest shown from members. 

Objective #2:  Add at least 1 APR accredited member during the 2017-18 chapter year

STATUS: Achieved and on-going.

UPDATE: One additional member now has her APR.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

FSBA sessions – Once again, the Florida School Boards Association specifically asked SUNSPRA to present professional development to school board members at its annual Joint Conference in late November / early December.  

Fall Awards – include “Outstanding Superintendent Communicator” and Margie Davidson “Leading Light” Awards, both nominated by SUNSPRA members, with individual awards handed out during the November 30 general session at the Florida School Boards Association fall conference in Tampa Bay.  Blackboard returns as the exclusive awards sponsor. 

www.sunspra.org – Chapter wants to update its website with a new look and content development. 

FASA Summer Conference – SUNSPRA presented professional development in June and handed out its Medallion Awards at this same conference.  

JUNE 19, 2018 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC SUNSPRA President

FLORIDA’S BEST PUBLIC SCHOOL PR PROJECTS CAPTURE MEDALLION AWARDS
PALM HARBOR, FL – School districts throughout Florida walked away with first-place honors in the annual SUNSPRA Medallion Awards, sponsored by the Sunshine State School Public Relations Association. 
The awards showcase the best public relations projects from public school districts in the Sunshine State.  Districts and schools compete in two major categories – “Programs and Projects” and “Publications and PR Tools” – and various sub-categories to score first-place honors from an independent judging panel. 
SUNSPRA leaders handed out the awards Thursday, June 14, during the closing session of the Florida Association of School Administrators (FASA) Summer Conference at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida. 
The 2018 SUNSPRA Medallion Awards winning line-up includes:
“Programs and Projects”
• “ALICE Protocol Training Video” for Crisis Communications and School Safety, Marion County Public Schools
• “#WeManatee” for Themed Promotion, Manatee County Schools
• “Workman Orchestra – Fiddles on Fire” for Fund Raising or Special Event, Escambia County School District
• “ECET2 Conference” for Fund Raising or Special Event, School District of Osceola County
• “Principal for a Day and State of Education” Business Partnership, School Disrict of Osceola County
• “Student Branding Competition” for Overall Image or Brand Campaign, Polk County Public Schools
• “Feature Teacher and Education Awards” Recognition Program, School District of Osceola County
“Publications and PR Tools”
• “OneClay.net” Website, Clay County Schools
• “2017-18 School Calendar” for Poster/Calendar, Marion County Public Schools
The prestigious “Best of Show” award was handed out with highest honors of all entries:
• BEST OF SHOW – “ALICE Protocol Training Video” for Crisis Communications and School Safety, Marion County Public Schools

Professional development programs/activities

SUNSPRA continues looking for professional development opportunities to offer its members.  

Major chapter issues or concerns

Chapter cohesion – Time and distance seem to prevent chapter members from “getting together” on any regular basis.  A handful of members attend both the FSBA and FASA conferences, along with NSPRA’s annual conference.  However, getting a significant percentage of chapter members together for anything has not happened in years. 

Professional Development – Again, time and distance limit far-away districts from participating in awards competitions, get-togethers and other chapter functions. 

Membership – Given the size and geography of Florida, we continue efforts to recruit even more members from the Central Florida area.  It is difficult to attract members from the Panhandle and South Florida, though we succeeded with Escambia and Miami-Dade Public Schools last year.  With conferences in Central Florida, travel time and costs make it tough to attract significant new numbers to conferences and SUNSPRA events. Not sure what the solution is but we are always reaching out to potential new members. 

Leadership Stream – President Kevin Christian, APR, CPRC, continues leading beyond his second two-year term.  Previous president elect and treasurer are no longer members and not in the PR profession.  Current members offer limited interest in leading, but Kevin continues conversations with members for leadership development. NSPRA has offered regional and national support to increase member leadership participation, but no results has surfaced as of this report. 

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Professional Development – We’d love to have NSPRA help offer our members professional development in Florida.  SUNSPRA’s president has discussed some ideas with Karen Kleinz, APR, and continues looking for additional opportunities.  

APR Incentive – SUNSPRA now offers a $100 rebate to anyone sitting for the CBE (Computer-Based Exam). This is on top of other incentives offered by other professional PR organizations. 

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

  • School security – following Marjorie Stoneman Douglas and Forest High School shootings, Florida’s legislature designated $100 million for school security and now requires a school resource officer, school security officer, or armed guardian at every public school every day. Big problem is the designated funding is not enough, and now districts are dipping into reserves to pay for the required security. 
  • Charter schools continue pulling serious funding from public schools
  • Too much testing
  • Opt-out concerns continue

Additional items of note  

None at this time. 


Mideast Region Chapters Report - July 2018

Tom Scheidel, Mideast Region Vice President

 

Chesapeake School Public Relations Association (CHESPRA)

Lauren Nolasco, APR, President

Chapter well-being

We have approximately 140 members and look forward to increasing our numbers with our fall membership drive. The chapter hosted its Spring 2018 conference and held elections to select the new board members who took office on April 27, 2018. We held our first Executive Board meeting on June 21, 2018, to work on the 2018-19 calendar and set the agenda for the fall/spring conferences.  

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

The Board will review our organization’s website to identify ways to redesign it and make it more user-friendly for our members and include information/data that can be helpful to them. Blackboard Connect hosts our website and we’re working to continue this partnership. We will begin planning the fall conference which is part of our professional development opportunity for members. We are revisiting our accounting system “SchoolPay” and changing to PayPal.

Professional development programs/activities

Our chapter is currently working on the NSPRA 2019 campaign and materials to share at the upcoming NPSRA 2018 conference in California to encourage attendance. Our chapter offers members two professional development opportunities through our Spring/Fall conferences. We are working on a new membership campaign entitled, “CHESPRA: Changing How Everyone Sees PR, Again” to promote the evolution of school public relations using technology, social media, and innovative promotions to market our school districts and increase our CHESPRA membership.

Major chapter issues or concerns

CHESPRA is working to encourage school districts in Maryland and West Virginia to join, and other school districts that did not connect with us this school year.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

CHESPRA and NSPRA chapters are dealing with the onset of mass shootings in our schools, suicide and bullying issues. It would be helpful to partner and promote healthy awareness/prevention campaigns to assist school districts to support students, parents, staff and the community.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

N/A 

 

Indiana School Public Relations Association (INDSPRA)

Stacey Forcey-Moore, President

Chapter well-being

Membership is growing and districts are seeking us out. We have some attrition each year, but 18 new member districts this year and a net growth. Over 70 school districts. Fiscally we are the strongest we’ve ever been. Our budget has allowed us to move to a nicer conference venue. With the help of the Michigan chapter we have upgraded and outlined our sponsorship opportunities as well. We are currently in the process of a rebrand and website re-design. In order to distinguish ourselves from the Illinois chapter, we will be INDSPRA.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We are doing more and being more of a resource for our state education agencies. They are increasingly pushing out our info to their memberships. Exec. Director was interviewed for a podcast with state superintendent organization and asked to join a panel discussion on referenda at the Indiana School Board Assoc./Indiana Assoc. of Public School Supt. Budget Seminar.

School safety specialists now regularly confer with us on crisis communications.

Professional development programs/activities

We are planning professional development opportunities with Blackboard and have offered that to a few other sponsors. Recently, Blackboard provided a “School Choice” Leadership seminar followed by an Indians game. We partner each year with Mooresville Schools for their active shooter drill and invite participation from all over the state. We provide Power Hour opportunities around the state each month. Last fall we launched a half day “boot camp” for rookies. It was so successful we are lengthening it to a full day with a “reboot” for veteran in the afternoon. We are creating three regional director positions (north, central, south) to help coordinate meet-ups for chapters and at least one Power Hour. We are always looking for new ways to create face-to-face opportunities with members!

Major chapter issues or concerns

In Indiana, vouchers are always a concern. With a Republican super majority in the legislature they are strangling public schools. Of interest is the current bill that is likely to pass, that will allow a state university to take over a public school district in fiscal distress, rather than an emergency manager. It sets a disturbing precedent in that it voids collective bargaining for teachers. It appoints (rather than elects) the school board, requiring only two of seven members to reside in the city. It provides no “end date” for turning the district back over to the community.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

The above is certainly one, but, always the financial/voucher beast.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Right now, we are dealing with the same things the rest of the country is. Underfunding, vouchers, gun violence (Noblesville West Middle School), transgender rights, fake news . . . 

 

Kentucky School Public Relations Association (KYSPRA)

Wayne Walden, President

Chapter well-being

Holding steady. We had a good spring conference in March. We have a total membership of 87 and a strong cash balance.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We have re-started our OASIS awards program, which recognizes professional achievements by KYSPRA members, after a one year hiatus.  The Kentucky Association of School Administrators has offered to help facilitate the awards program by providing a community on the KASA connect platform to upload entries and other facilities and personnel to facilitate judging entries and notifying members. We ratified the KASA proposal at spring board meeting and are currently accepting entries.

Professional development programs/activities

The fall and spring conferences, along with the OASIS awards, are our major professional development effort.

Major chapter issues or concerns

As a board I think we are struggling with having the time and resources needed to give to KYSPRA to keep it viable and healthy. As PR professionals we are stretched thin trying to serve our districts to the best of our ability.

Budget cuts at the state level are putting pressure on local districts to make cuts, so some PR positions are at risk and many of our colleagues expect cuts to PR/marketing budgets in the upcoming year.

We are struggling with how to offer value to our membership. Some of our members struggle with getting money from their districts to participate in KYSPRA events. Some of members are so overwhelmed by their work that they simply don’t have the capacity left over to be involved in KYSPRA. 

We are struggling with finding better ways to make use of digital events and collaborative PD with similar organizations so we can offer our members a broader menu of PD options. While live events have their place, we need to find ways to offer PD that’s digital and personalized.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Any efforts that the NSPRA could make to help state organizations network and collaborate to offer PD to members would be helpful.  I think NSPRA should offer consulting to chapters who are having problems. It would be helpful to have someone come in from the outside and suggest structural changes that need to be made to help the organization become more healthy.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

  • Charter schools – how can public schools compete with the advantages that charters offer?
  • Continuing declines in state and federal funding, and the increasing need for local funding of public schools.
  • School safety measures, and how PR professionals can help make schools safer.  Resources on crisis communications would be helpful.

 

Michigan School Public Relations Association (MSPRA)

Kristin Tank, President

Chapter well-being

We held our annual election in April and are planning for our leadership transition in September. With two long-serving board members exiting the board, we are in the process of seeking two new At-large members to join us. We have scheduled an August retreat where we will orient our new board members and plan for next year. 
Our committees (PD, Awards & Recognition, and Membership) continue to be actively working between board meetings. 

Even after our membership drive, we are continuing to attract new members from our professional development activities. We have a healthy operating budget and our Membership Committee is considering how we can reinvest some of those funds back into membership benefits.  The committee is considering both scholarships and grants.  We will have more discussion at our August retreat.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We received NSPRA’s Mark of Distinction Award for Collaboration for working with other state education associations on the communication of school walkouts in March. This initial collaboration of associations resulted in a second collaboration in which the superintendents’ association reached out to MSPRA, seeking help with a second round of guidance for potential April 20th walkouts.  MSPRA leaders helped craft questions for a second superintendents’ survey about walkouts.  Then, MSPRA leaders contributed to the resulting guidance for possible April 20th walkouts.  The second document, “Student Walkout Guidance April 16” was built upon the first collaborative document, but included more in-depth legal advice crafted by the superintendents’ association legal counsel.  It was released to the collaborating state associations on April 16, 2018.

MSPRA continues its ongoing work with the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators on a Public Relations sub-group focusing on intermediate unit communicators.

MSPRA continues to work with and/or be a resource for other educational associations/institutions.  For example:

  • MSPRA members Keely Baribeau and Tom Gould presented at the Michigan School Business Officials Annual Conference in April.  Not even a spring snowstorm could keep them from sharing their PR knowledge and expertise with this group.
  • In May, MSPRA members Rebecca Fannon, Dr. Amanda Holdsworth, APR, and Mark Snyder served as discussion leaders/facilitators for Oakland University’s Superintendents’ Academy.  With these kinds of efforts we continue to remind/show superintendents the value of PR.
  • In June, MSPRA Executive Director Gerri Allen delivered a customer service workshop on behalf of MSPRA to Farmington Public Schools.
  • Several MSPRA members are scheduled to present at the 2018 NSPRA Seminar.  Tom Scheidel, Dr. Amanda Holdsworth, APR, and Karen Heath will share their knowledge on various topics.  Plus, Karen Heath, Tom Gould, and Anne Cron, APR will present at the Sunday Leaders’ Meeting on MSPRA’s year-round Professional Development Program.

Professional development programs/activities

We are excited to have received NSPRA’s 2018 Mark of Distinction Award for year-round Professional Development. We held our Annual Conference on March 15 and 16, 2018.  Sixty-three people registered for the event. We had four major investors and we introduced a new app.  From discovering how to help Michigan become a Top 10 in 10 State to Learning about: Crisis Communication, How School Communicators Impact Student Growth...we covered it all and still managed to enjoy some job-alike therapy.  Conference evaluations, overall, were very positive with either very useful or somewhat useful rankings.  Based on Thrun Law Firm’s presentation at the annual conference, we were able to offer a separate handout on archiving social media in a special MSPRA Minute as a bonus resource for our members.

We held our Summer Drive-in Conference on June 25, 2018; 35 people attended the one-day training.  We also offered use of the app for the summer drive-in. At the summer drive-in, we unveiled our new website which includes a repository for shared documents.  We plan to continue to build that resource with and for our members.

Judging for our annual Awards and Recognition contests--to select the Superintendent Communicator of the Year, The Gerri Allen School Communicator of the Year, and the Gold Medallion Awards--is underway. The committee used a full-court press to promote these opportunities and, we believe as a result, we saw an increase in entries.  The judging process is scheduled to conclude at the end of July.

Major chapter issues or concerns

We are anticipating the impact of the Governor’s Marshall Plan for Career and Technical Education (CTE). We are beginning to plan for the celebration of our 60th anniversary (2019) as an NSPRA Chapter.  We are carefully watching the diminishing amount of time board members and other members can dedicate to MSPRA business. And, we are trying to remain focused on helping members take care of themselves; avoid burnout.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

What do other SPRAs do for new members?

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Kindergarten Readiness, Vouchers 

Additional items of note

  • We are excited to use NSPRA’s new Connect portal.  It is an awesome tool.  Thank you!
  • We nominated two of our exiting board members for the Learning and Liberty Legacy Leadership Awards.  We will present their certificates later in the summer.
  • Special thank you to OHSPRA for providing materials relative to Kindergarten Readiness.
  • MSPRA had a record year (2017-18) for investment sponsorships thanks to the investment menu template developed by OHSPRA.

 

Ohio School Public Relations Association (OHSPRA)

Crystal Davis, President

Chapter well-being

OHSPRA recognized as exemplary chapter for third year. The Ohio School Public Relations Association has been selected for the Exemplary Chapter Award by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) for the third year in a row.
The chapter received the designation in NSPRA's Mark of Distinction Awards program in the Special Focus Area of Professional Development/Skill Building. OHSPRA is one of only six chapters in the nation selected for the award this year.

MEMBERSHIP

OHSPRA membership has rebounded for the 2017-18 membership year. As of June 1, 2018 there are 154 paid members, up from 142 in 2016-17 membership cycle. We will continue to build back to and surpass the 160 members in 2015-16. We have experienced many non-renewals as members who have retired or left their position during the school year. We also note a lot of new faces in the membership and will continue to build on the recruitment of new hires moving forward. 

The chapter continues to be fiscally viable and responsible. The chapter’s director of partnerships had to take a break from the position in early 2018 for some personal health issues and a job transition, but the now past-president Crystal Davis and our chapter manager Mary Beddell stepped in. Sponsorship brought in a record-breaking $25,500 over the past year! 

SPONSORSHIP

Sponsors include; Blackboard, eSchoolView, Peachjar, Roetzel Consulting Solutions, School Messenger and SiteImprove. We thank them for their generous support. At our board retreat in June, we also revised the sponsorship menu and added more opportunities for sponsorship, hoping to build on the success from the 2017-18 year. Accordingly, we have set an ambitious sponsorship goal for 2018-19 year at $20,000.

The new sponsorship menu is below. The board felt it was important to nail down the sponsorship menu before the end of retreat with the hope that we would not deviate from it in the coming year. We have had issues with inconsistencies in the past with what vendors were offered and we are trying to remedy that. 

Additionally, we are going to open a “sponsorship” window on August 1 which will allow all vendors equal opportunity to sign up for a sponsorship at their chosen level. They will be asked to email their selection beginning at 10 a.m. and will be permitted to sponsor at each level on a first come, first served basis.

RETREAT

The chapter held our annual board retreat at Deer Creek State Park on June 7 and 8 to plan for the upcoming membership year of 2018-19. The board officers remained mostly the same based on the elections in April 2018. The one exception was our director of Contests & Awards as we welcomed a new board member, Olivia Bronczek. The outgoing director of contests and awards decided not to run for the position again.   

BUDGET/FINANCES
  • Checking Account for June 26, 2018: Balance: $37,646.87
  • Savings Account for June 26, 2018: Balance: $25,638.45
  • A Certificate of Deposit worth $5,000 also matured this year and was deposited into the savings account. 

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts: 

BASA WORKSHOP – JUNE 14, 2018 

OHSPRA helped plan & several members presented at the Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA) Communication Workshop in June 2018. Over 40 superintendents, cabinet-level staff members and communications staff were present for the workshop. The agenda is below.
This is a new relationship that we have established with BASA! A member of BASA came to our OHSPRA/OSBA Fall Workshop and liked it so much that they wanted to replicate it.

Additionally, via a partnership with the Ohio Department of Education, the school communication officer contact information database was again updated within the past six months. This is a major goal accomplishment for the director of memberships! Using this updated database, we will be better able to communicate with the chief school communication officers across the state and we plan to use this list heavily as a recruitment tool.

Professional development programs/activities 

SPRING CONFERENCE - 2018

The 2018 OHSPRA Spring Conference was held on April 12 and 13 at the Nationwide Hotel and Conference Center. There were 109 attendees (see numbers in the spreadsheet below).

OHSPRA annually seeks to award a scholarship to the Ohio School Public Relations Association Spring Conference to a deserving member(s). This special conference scholarship was established in 2014 and is used to assist OHSPRA member(s) in covering the cost of conference registration and one night’s lodging at the Spring Conference. The OHSPRA Board of Directors reviews the chapter’s budget each year and, as long as the budget allows, sets aside funds to administer the scholarship annually. Eligible candidates must hold a membership with OHSPRA and the recipient is selected by the board. OHSPRA is pleased to have been able to award one 2018 Spring Conference Scholarship to a deserving member. The Board has also determined that we will offer two to four scholarships next year. Two new scholarships will be offered as part of the sponsorship menu (above) and a brand new scholarship is being implemented in the name of Scott Ebright, former OHSPRA president, who recently passed away from cancer.

CONTEST AND AWARDS @SPRING CONFERENCE

The chapter used Google forms for all online entries again this year. It was easy for members to fill out and the spreadsheet auto-populated. The forms were tweaked from last year. We received 89 award entries and 48 awards were distributed at the Spring Conference Awards Luncheon.

Some of the highlights of the awards season were:

  • Piloted an awards judging swap with WSPRA. In the end, the board was not happy with this judging method because WSPRA had substantially more entries as OHSPRA, which made a lot more work for our chapter than anticipated. 
  • Re-evaluated our awards program, which included adding four new award categories. This awards program helps members benchmark practices and advocate for their positions. It also provides recognition and feedback on how to improve and what to keep doing well. 
  • Continued improving our system of using all-electronic awards entries and judging.

In addition to the items contained in the folders in this category, below are a few links with more information about the Achievement Awards:

  • 2018 winners web page (with links to winning projects) 
  • Past recipients award web page example (from 2017) 
  • Example entry form
SCHOOL SECURITY AND SAFETY SOLUTIONS SUMMIT – SEPTEMBER 12, 2018

OHSPRA will be part of this event in Columbus, Ohio, joining forces with a number of educational associations all listed below. The panel session that OHSPRA will lead is also described below.

Engaging the Community in Your District's Safety Initiatives

Communication is a vital component to district safety. Is your district proactively communicating about its safety policies and protocols before a crisis happens? When a crisis strikes in your school district, what is the messaging to your community and media that needs to take place immediately, regularly, as well as in the aftermath of the incident? How does your district respond when there is a crisis in a neighboring community or a national movement that has caused disruption in schools across the country? What systems do you have in place to disseminate the facts and how effective are these systems? In a panel discussion, hear from school communication experts across Ohio about best practices and the role a communications professional can play in relation to district safety. 

Tentative Panelists include:

  • Jenny Alexander - Communications Director, Mad River Schools
  • Dr. Roseann Canfora - Chief Communications Officer, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
  • Trevor Patton - Director of Marketing and Communications, Washington Court House City Schools
  • Erika Daggett - Associate Director of Communications, Forest Hills School District 
  • Lou DeVincentis - Director of Communications, Orange City School District 

Information about the summit:

Recent events across the country have renewed the nation’s focus on protecting the students and staff in our schools. The debate on school safety is raging and people are wrestling with what school districts can do to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again. The education community understands that the problems and challenges facing our school leadership go beyond individual roles and even district boundaries. The solution to school violence is not one dimensional and requires an ongoing effort in a multidisciplinary approach. The inclusion of mental health services, safety measures, improved safety features for school buildings and increased training must be enhanced to ensure the continued safety of our students and staff. OHSPRA is taking part in a collaborative effort involving a multitude of education groups, mental health organizations and law enforcement agencies to address the issues surrounding the safety and security of Ohio’s schools. Twenty groups have committed themselves to working together to make a difference for the schoolchildren of this state. They have developed both short- and long-term goals that focus on mental health, safety procedures and training, cooperative relationships between law enforcement and school districts, weapons in schools, family and parental involvement and more. 

The groups involved include:

  • Buckeye Association of School Administrators;
  • Ohio Educational Service Center Association;
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness – Ohio;
  • Ohio Federation of Teachers;
  • Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education;
  • Ohio High School Athletic Association; 
  • Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators;
  • Oho Mental Health and Addiction Services;
  • Ohio Association of Public School Employees;
  • Ohio PTA;
  • Ohio Association of School Business Officials;
  • Ohio School Boards Association;
  • Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators;
  • Ohio School Counselors Association;
  • Ohio Department of Education;
  • Ohio School Psychologists Association;
  • Ohio Homeland Security;
  • Ohio School Resource Officers Association.
  • Ohio Education Association;
  • Ohio School Public Relations Association.

The event will be free of charge and is designed for district teams including administrators, board members, educators, school communicators, school counselors, school psychologists, support staff, mental health professionals, parent leaders, law enforcement and other first responders.

CAPITAL CONFERENCE SESSIONS

OHSPRA has been selected to present two sessions during OSBA’s 2018 Capital Conference. One session will focus on social media and new ways to engage your community and the other will focus on surveying your community, communication surveys and more. 

Major chapter issues or concerns 

Amplify Your Story newsletter — we continue to have some issues with MailChimp newsletter delivery. The director of communications continues to look into the matter and has been sending the newsletter to membership utilizing his school email to ensure delivery.

We will continue to develop the awards process and eventual presentation during the Spring Conference. We tried something new this year by partnering with the Washington SPRA and while it appeared to be a good idea at the start, we felt that we may have not be an equitable match in the volume of awards to be judged from Washington compared to Ohio. We needed to recruit many additional members to assist. 

We are trying to find ways to boost the use of our networking center on our website. It is not utilized enough by our members so we continue to think of ways to draw them in, etc. 

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

N/A

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

  • School safety issues, walkout support, arming teachers, metal detectors, mental health, etc.  The continuing drug epidemic (opioid crisis) — what role schools will play in education, prevention, treatment. 
  • Overall well-being initiatives for students & schools (Suicide clusters, ideation, etc) 
  • Website accessibility (ADA compliance), Translation systems for website and electronic communications - meeting the needs of district families
  • Low income, multilingual, cultural differences and how to best support them in school districts
  • Immigration issues and how it can impact school communities

Additional items of note

CHAPTER MANAGER

The board is very happy with the work of Mary Beddell, public relations director, Plain Local School District, who serves as chapter manager. At retreat, the board voted to award Mary with a 3% raise.

COMMUNICATION TO MEMBERS

Newsletters

Our Snapshot newsletter was revamped this year and is now called Amplify Your Story and it continues to be well received by members. It has been published over the last quarter according to the following schedule:

  • February 2018 — Spring Conference “Save the Date” promo, elections nominations, scholarship info for conference, 
  • March 2018 — Spring Conference detailed promo, elections info
  • April 2018 — ICYMI - Spring Conference detailed promo, elections info
  • May 2018 — Spring Conference survey promo, Exemplary Chapter News, Conference award winners & special recognitions for lifetime achievement to Kari Basson and the Friend of Education to Newark City Schools Broadcast Manager Mat Dunham and Shaker Heights City School District’s Communications Advisory Council.

Social media:

  • Twitter - We have 1,395 followers and are following 784. 
  • Facebook - We have 287 likes & 280 following. 
ELECTIONS

OHSPRA held elections for five open board seats in April 2018. The results of the 2018 OHSPRA Elections are as follows:

  • Kari Basson, Kettering City Schools will serve as Director of Professional Development
  • Olivia Bronczek, Massillon City Schools will serve as Director of Contests & Awards
  • Lou DeVincentis, Orange City Schools will serve as the President-Elect
  • Patti Koslo, eSchoolView will serve as Treasurer
  • Kurt Moore, Marion City Schools will serve as Director of Communications

As a vacancy became available for the director of membership, Erika Daggett (outgoing past-president) expressed interest in remaining on the board. After gaining approval from the board, President Crystal Davis appointed Daggett in May 2018 to fulfill the remainder of the term. 

NSPRA's Executive Board to vote on changes to OHSPRA's bylaws.

At OHSPRA's annual Spring Conference, members overwhelmingly voted in favor of proposed changes to the association's bylaws at OHSPRA's 2018 Spring Conference.

During a short board meeting at the beginning of the conference on April 12, there were 72 paid OHSPRA members in attendance. The members voted on the proposed language changes by paper ballot, then board members collected and counted the ballots.

Fifty-seven members voted in favor of the proposed bylaws changes and there was one no vote. Forty-eight votes — 2/3 of the current paid OHSPRA members — were required for passage. Now, the amendments will go before NSPRA's Executive Board to review at their annual conference in July. Ultimately, NSPRA will decide whether or not to approve the changes to OHSPRA's bylaws.

Click here to download proposed changes to the bylaws.

Elections

Doug Baker with Dublin City Schools and Tracey Carson with Mason City Schools served on the 2018 OHSPRA Nominating Committee, whereby they reviewed the ballot and the election results.

All newly elected or appointed board members began their terms on the OHSPRA Board of Directors on June 1, 2018.

Full Board:

  • President — Patrick Gallaway, director of communications, New Albany-Plain Local Schools
  • Past President — Crystal Davis, deputy director of communications, Ohio School Boards Association 
  • President-Elect -— Lou DeVincentis, Communication Coordinator, Orange City Schools
  • Treasurer — Patti Koslo, K Communications & eSchoolView
  • Secretary — Erika Konowalow, Erika Konowalow, communication & marketing coordinator at Pickaway-Ross Career & Technology Center
  • Director of Membership — Erika Daggett, communications coordinator, Forest Hills School District
  • Director of Communications – Kurt Moore, director of communications, Marion City Schools
  • Director of Professional Development- Kari Basson, community relations coordinator, Kettering City Schools 
  • Director of Contests and Awards — Olivia Bronczek, communications director, Massillon City Schools
  • Director of Partnerships — Erin Graham, communications consultant, multiple districts northeast Ohio

Mary Beddell, public relations director, Plain Local School District, serves as chapter manager (not a board position).

GOALS

More info will be provided in the next chapter report as the minutes from retreat are not yet finalized. However, here are a few of the goals that were accomplished over the course of the last year:

  • Continue to enhance the online membership area of our website by working with SchoolMessenger/West and training a new director of membership 
  • Exceeded the goal of $15,000 in sponsorships
  • Increased partnerships with other educational associations in the state (presenting at Ohio School Boards Association, Buckeye Association for School Administrators)  
  • Clarified the menu of sponsorship levels and brought in several new sponsors
  • Established a main point of contact for sponsors and streamlined the sponsor application process
  • Published quarterly Amplify Your Story newsletter on time and with a good read rate
  • Regularly promoted the website features with e-blasts
  • Improved the website’s online Resources area
  • Provided regular social media updates
    • Build following on Facebook & continue to build Twitter
    • Research the launch of Instagram

North Central Region Chapters Report - July 2018

Peg Mannion, APR, North Central Region Vice President

 

Illinois School Public Relations Association (INSPRA) 

Ryan McPherrin, President

Chapter well-being  

INSPRA is in strong financial standing. Our cash and short-term investments total $114,955. We have increased our efforts to secure sponsorships so that we may continue to bring in national speakers for our Tips & Tactics workshops. While we appreciate our sponsor partners, we also do not want to be overly reliant on these funds to function as an organization. Having added costs associated with D&O insurance, and additional costs for our facility rentals for meetings, we voted in the spring to increase our membership rate from $90 to $125. It is our first increase in a decade.

Membership remains strong and engaged. We have 177 members; down two from same time last year. Chapter activity is high, as laid out below.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Our annual Distinguished Service Awards were held May 11. Thirty-three individuals were recognized, including numerous INPSRA members, superintendents, school board members, licensed & support staff and even some students. More than 100 attendees were on hand. Both awardee and attendee numbers were on par with previous years. This is a highly valuable opportunity for others to see what we do, recognize PR ambassadors in our districts and network with colleagues.

We’ve begun a new partnership with the Illinois Association of School Business Officials (IASBO). Several of INSPRA’s leaders met with a PD committee of IASBO members regarding communications and social media at IASBO’s annual conference in May to discuss how we can partner with one another to increase value for both membership bases. We will be establishing and developing a partnership throughout the coming year, which we hope will be lasting.

We will once again partner with the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB) to hold two presentations as a chapter at the Triple I (Illinois Association of School Boards, IASBO and Illinois Association of School Administrators) conference in Chicago in November. One will be on Crisis and Big Issue Communication and the other will be on School Board Communications.

The Annual Summer Planning Meeting will be held on June 28 at the District Offices of our new president, Becky Koltz, in West Chicago. The new Board members will participate in a meeting for the first time and lay the groundwork for the 2018-19 year.

Professional development programs/activities

In April, INSPRA held its final Tips & Tactics session of the 2017-18 school year. Tips & Tactics are held monthly from October through April with a variety of topics and local and national expert presenters brought in. Here’s a link to the complete schedule of 2017-18 Tips & Tactics sessions (next year’s schedule will be developed throughout the summer): https://filecabinet5.eschoolview.com/1907C608-6A33-4742-9924-A576C9C594F4/INSPRA%20T%20and%20T%202017-18%20Final%202.pdf 

In early May, INSPRA held a special session about ADA Web Compliance. It was not on our Tips & Tactics schedule, but due to popular demand, we put it together. We leveraged our partnership with Blackboard to have them present on the topic with best practices and solutions. They also provided lunch. Additionally, at the special ADA Compliance session, we set up a panel of INSPRA experts who have been through the OCR complaints to share their stories and best practices to help attendees better understand what an OCR complaint looks like and how to deal with it. Lastly, we played the video of the January NSPRA Power Hour about ADA Web Compliance to the group. We had 50 attendees and received overwhelmingly positive feedback. 

Major chapter issues or concerns

INSPRA members, like school PR professionals nationwide, are looking for definitive guidance on ESSA. Members are hungry for go-to resources to answer the myriad of questions about ESSA. Additional resources about ADA compliance are also of interest.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Two areas of interest: ESSA resources and school safety resources in the wake of the recent school shootings.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is advocating for a 2-year local property tax freeze and shifting the employer portion of the teachers’ pension to local school districts. These two proposals would result in districts losing millions of dollars in revenue and incurring millions in additional expenditures, respectively. In Illinois, school districts are heavily dependent on local property taxes. 

We need more guidance on ESSA as it will impact our schools dramatically.

Additional items of note

n/a

 

Iowa School Public Relations Association (ISPRA)

Laura Sprague, President

Chapter well-being

The Iowa School Public Relations Association (ISPRA) has a growing roster and is in good financial health. Since the start of the 2017‐18 school year, we have added 18 new members, due to a growing need in our state for solid school public relations practitioners. To date, our total balance of all accounts is $17,333.21.

Our state chapter comes together twice a year for a fall conference and spring awards night/conference. We actively use a Google group to ask and share information; this has been beneficial for new and old members alike. Recently, we implemented a monthly Zoom meeting between board members to share updates and information. This has been a helpful way for leadership to stay connected and on‐task with chapter work.
Our board leadership will be meeting in July to discuss plans and needs for the upcoming year.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Continuing to recruit and retain school communicators; once on‐boarded with ISPRA, we are making more of an attempt to provide any and all resources we can and help them find (veteran) school PR people in their area to form relationships. We will be offering a specific new member day in August 2018 to bring all new members (2017 to August 2018) together to share resources and help them get better acclimated to their roles. (Ongoing project)

Forming better relationships with state associations, such as the School Administrators of Iowa, Iowa

Association of School Business and Finance, Iowa Association of School Boards. We want these groups to see us as valuable partners in the whole picture of school/district vitality. (Ongoing project)

It is my hope as president to write a strategic plan for the chapter that would provide direction and initiatives for the next three to five years. A membership survey in late spring 2018 will provide the research necessary to write the plan. (New project)

Our past president has taken on the idea to create a speaker’s bureau of Iowa school PR practitioners that can be used by outside organizations if they are looking for a resource. Examples: A smaller district would like to hear from someone on crisis communications – they can use our speaker’s bureau to identify someone who excels in crisis communications and we would speak to their group. (New project)

Professional development programs/activities

ISPRA members have “attended” five NSPRA Power Hours over the course of the last year; we have three locations around the state where regional groups of practitioners can gather. On the months we do not have a Power Hour, we will have a Zoom meeting to catch up and share information with one another.

Our Spring awards night and conference was held April 19 and 20 in Des Moines. April 19 serves as an evening to socialize and celebrate our successes through the annual awards dinner. This year, we had a record number of contest entries – 113 entries from 20 different districts!

On April 20, we heard from the following speakers/topics: Bonds & Levies: Beyond Campaign Time – Lesley Rogers, Strategies 360; Legal Primer for School Communicators – Matt Carver, J.D., School Administrators of Iowa; News Media Relations: The New Rules of Engagement – Jerry Gallagher, Donovan Group; Lessons Learned: Promise of Iowa Campaign – Lisa Bartusek, IASB. Thirty‐eight members were in attendance.

We continue to advocate for our members to obtain their Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). The state PRSA chapter welcomes school practitioners to join their classes and we have had good interest from our membership in taking the course and completing the requirements. Currently, two ISPRA members are taking the PRSA APR short course for eventual completion of the APR. Chapter President Laura Sprague, APR, is serving as a mentor to one of them.

As mentioned above, we are planning to hold a “new to school PR” day in early August to help acclimate them to their roles and share resources as they begin this crazy, fun career! With a number of new members joining this year, we will it will be well‐placed and with good timing.

ISPRA will also have a presence at the upcoming National Seminar. Chapter President Laura Sprague, APR, and Membership Chair Tammy Votava will be presenting to other chapters regarding membership growth strategies during Sunday’s leadership meetings; we will also be accepting our Chapter of Distinction award at that time (!). On Tuesday, Laura will lead her session “Hacked! How an unassuming suburban district navigated a cyber terrorist attack.”

Major chapter issues or concerns

This is an ongoing issue; I think we are struggling to be seen as an equal “player” amongst other school administrator/business services. As mentioned above, we are putting more effort into letting statewide organizations know we are here, we are professionals, and we play a vital role in the daily operations of our school district. As our group gains credibility and (favorable) reputation, I hope to see that reflected in how are roles are viewed within individual school districts.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

I’d like to see the goals and objectives for NSPRA and then learn how we, as state chapters, can be supporting those or working on them within our own areas. Sometimes I feel like there is a disconnect between the national association and state associations.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Education legislation and dwindling dollars for “extras” like school communications leaves many of us in one-person shops and/or fighting tooth and nail for our offices. Additionally, we, as school communicators, are often asked about advocacy efforts and that’s a tough call – tips and best practices around what’s ethically OK to do in terms of advocacy would be appreciated.

Additional items of note

As I have said before, we are thriving as a collegial group and chapter. It’s an exciting, changing time in the world of school PR and I am honored to lead this organization.

 

Minnesota School Public Relations Association (MinnSPRA)

Jake Sturgis, APR, President

Chapter well-being

MinnSPRA had a great year. Our membership numbers are steady, around 160 members. We were able to reinvest in our membership this year through several new professional development opportunities. We intentionally spent down some of our savings this year to provide our members more opportunities as we are in a strong financial position. 

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Continuing to find ways to provide opportunities to our membership. This was the first year our member directory was 100% online, without us printing any versions for members.

Looking to help organize an APR study group. It has been a few years since we’ve had a member earn their accreditation.

Professional development programs/activities

This has been an incredible year for MinnSPRA. A large part of our work is to provide professional development opportunities for our members and we have provided more ways for our members to learn and connect than any other year in recent memory. 

In October, we hosted a Gender Inclusive Schools workshop with a national expert, Joel Baum.

In November, our fall conference was keynoted by Kim Lear who has spoken around the world about different generations and how we need to tailor our messages.

In February, we held a leadership seminar for our membership. We know several of our long-time members will be retiring over the next few years and there are some very talented younger people looking for ways to develop their leadership skills as they aspire to have a director role over the next few years. Every member that I talked to…young and old…told me what a powerful day this was. 

We also took a new approach to mentorship this year. A few of our members designed a new program that matches people based on areas of strengths and areas of growth. Christine Wrobelewski helped kick things off with an interactive workshop in February. Each person in the program acts as a mentor and mentee. The goal is to help close the knowledge gap between professionals and provide a mutually beneficial learning opportunity for professional and personal growth.

Amy Trombley helped lead 5 coffee chats throughout the year…where members can login through their webcam and talk to others about new and innovative ideas. There are still two more to come…

Barb Nicol helped organize 4 Think And Drinks where members discuss timely topics about every other month with their favorite beverage in-hand.
Our Facebook group has helped us all navigate new issues that are affecting districts in Minnesota and across the country. I know it’s also helped members navigate those difficult decisions regarding snow days.

And of course, our spring conference where we’ve heard from some incredible speakers and have had a chance to network with our colleagues from across the state.

Major chapter issues or concerns

Trying to figure out vendor categories for our membership as well as how or if we limit access to our private Facebook group for vendors and/or consultants. We’re trying to keep private conversations private, but also allow people with expertise to be a part of some conversations.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

No answer.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

No answer. 

Additional items of note 

At our spring meeting we handed out several awards.

  • Dawn K. McDowell Award: Susan Brott, APR
  • Bruce Bauer Award - $1500 toward NSPRA expenses for a new member: Cassondra Knutson
  • MinnSPRA District Leadership in Communication: Willie Jett, Superintendent, St. Cloud Area Schools

 

Nebraska School Public Relation Association (NebSPRA) 

Amanda Oliver, President

Chapter well-being

Still an active chapter, Nebraska continues to have regular monthly meetings during the school year. Our members are engaged and active during meetings. A large portion of our school districts remain understaffed for their size of district so our members continue to be overloaded within their day-to-day jobs. There are many great ideas brought forth and discussed but we continue to struggle with acting on those great ideas. 

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Our efforts continue with possibilities of a seminar/conference, even just a chapter awards luncheon with possible speakers for our chapter members and superintendents throughout our state. Collaboration continues with our local state administrator’s organization, as well as other state organizations for different projects.  

Professional development programs/activities

We are working this summer to plan/offer professional development opportunities at our monthly meetings, including guest speakers and business tools/solutions from vendors that different districts are working with.  We’ve also launched a school law professional development opportunity for the summer. 

Major chapter issues or concerns

Our members continue feeling very overworked. A few larger districts with superintendent changes or communications professionals who struggle on how to best use their communications person/team. 

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Still interested in suggestions on how to get non-school PR individuals involved in NSPRA. We have most of the school PR individuals in our state but we are still small in numbers. Would like to involve more principals, superintendents or others who have communication duties in our group.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Continued initiatives with state legislature for Charter Schools. Nebraska does not have charter schools. 

Funding concerns remain a high concern for many of our districts. 

Additional items of note

No answer.

 

Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA)

Sarah Heck, President

Strategic Planning. The WSPRA Board of Directors convened a full-day strategic planning exercise in June, preparing our short- and long-term visioning and for a change in leadership to a new president, vice president, treasurer and director.

Fall Conference. The theme of the fall conference centers on Superheroes of School Communications, and will feature focus tracks on communicating about safe and welcoming schools; school communications boot camp for newcomers; and the changing digital landscape.

Growth Trajectory. The number of school communications professionals in Wisconsin Public Schools is growing, our latest district survey shows. WSPRA partnered with the school administrators organization to conduct the survey, and are now using the data – along with other feedback and analytics – to shape our fall membership campaign.


Northeast Region Chapters Report - July 2018

Lana Mueller, Northeast Region Vice President

 

Connecticut School Public Relations Association (ConnSPRA)

Kimberley Eves, President 

Chapter well-being

We are still a very small, but determined group, dedicated to building the Chapter. Our own District work continues to pull our attention from more significant progress with the Chapter’s rejuvenation. However, our State Boards of Education Association has offered a number of resources to help us propel momentum.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Partnership w/CABE – We have expanded an informal partnership with the CT Association for Boards of Education (CABE). A member of ConnSPRA, they have offered the use of their database and completed a poll in June to establish comms contacts for a majority of Districts in the State. We are using this new comms database to communicate our efforts, recruit new membership, and promote programs for 2018-2019. CABE has also offered to host our meetings, provide webinar production resources, publish a quarterly article in their periodical, and promote our programs in their weekly eNewsletter.

  • May 16, 2018 – ConnSPRA Meeting
  • February 2, 2018 – ConnSPRA Meeting
  • December 13, 2017 – ConnSPRA Meeting
  • September 22, 2017 – ConnSPRA Meeting

Professional development programs/activities

Conducting a poll targeted to newly established comms contacts to determine priority topics for 2018-2019 Topics under consideration:

  • Website Accessibility in partnership with attorneys;
  • Survey Development and administration in partnership with Quinnipiac University; Strategic Communications Planning

Major chapter issues or concerns

Time –time for ConnSPRA leaders to focus on managing ConnSPRA work, when day jobs require so much more than a 40-hour work week is a significant challenge; in addition to frequent turnover of Superintendents in each of the Chapter Officer Districts; Speakers/Facilitators – finding speakers that are dynamic, engaging and knowledgeable to motivate attendance/membership

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

We appreciate NSPRA’s ongoing patience, support and encouragement

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

 

Additional items of note

  • Attachments: Current Membership & Current Officers (Northeast VP Lana Mueller sent to NSPRA separately.

 

New Jersey School Public Relations Association (NJSPRA) 

Lori Perlow, President

Chapter well-being

NJSPRA is a growing chapter. We are focusing our growth by targeting superintendents.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

In addition to existing partnerships with NJASA and NJSBA, we are beginning to collaborate with NJPSA (Principals and Supervisors). Lori Perlow was selected as a presenter at their Fall 2018 conference. NJPSA has roughly 8,000 members and they don’t offer any professional development in the area of school communications. Lori will be presenting on crisis communications along with Attorney Adam Weiss of the Busch Law Group. The Busch Law Group became well-known while representing the Sayreville School District during a hazing scandal that received national attention. Adam and Lori co-presented earlier in 2018 for NJASA and it was a successful collaboration.

Professional development programs/activities

We’re currently brainstorming ideas for PD to be offered next year. A summer planning session will be scheduled in late July. We may move from offering 4 half-day workshops to two full-day workshops. This may ease some scheduling on our end.

Major chapter issues or concerns

No major issues.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

None.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

None.

Additional items of note

None 

 

New York School Public Relations Association (NYSPRA)

Bill Cameron, President

Chapter well-being

A state-of-the-chapter summary (i.e., active or dormant; growing or declining membership; regular meetings; fiscally thriving; what’s working, what isn’t, etc.). The NY chapter has growing membership thanks to bylaws changes that allow for membership outside of our state, for areas that currently do not have a chapter, such as Ontario. We are about to initiate our annual membership drive for NYSPRA and launch our annual contest “call for entries” this month (June). 

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

The chapter has just launched a new website, with many new features and a new look! We also applied and were successful in earning a Mark of Distinction from NSPRA, something we have worked hard for! We continue to implement our 5 year Strategic Plan, as developed by the officers in the fall of 2017. 

Professional development programs/activities

We held a very successful March, 2018 conference. We are seeing growth in the number of attendees. The conference offered a full slate of staff development opportunities for membership. From our keynote speaker to the actual sessions offered, our survey showed positive feedback on the entire event. 

Major chapter issues or concerns

None at this time

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

None at this time

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

None at this time

Additional items of note

n/a 

 

Pennsylvania School Public Relations Association (PenSPRA)

Angela Linch, President

Chapter well-being

PenSPRA is doing great! Lots of excellent collaboration.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

Our annual spring conference was well attended. We partnered with a the Pennsylvania Education Foundation organization on day one for a two day conference, which was excellent! We are already looking forward to doing this again next year. We were delighted to welcome NSPRA representative Lana Mueller to the conference!

Professional development programs/activities

We continue to work with our regional leaders to plan professional development that meets with our leaders’ needs. Popular offerings include those that help our members raise revenue, inclusion, and social media savvy.

Major chapter issues or concerns

We are currently seeking a new executive director, and have found this to be a daunting challenge.

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

None at this time.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Threats to change the funding formula for schools, eliminating the property tax, are on school leaders’ minds in PA.

Additional items of note

None at this time.


Northwest Region Chapters Report - July 2018

Athena Vadnais, APR, Northwest Region Vice President

 

Idaho School Public Relations Association (IDSPRA)

Allison Westfall, President

Chapter well-being

The Chapter met June 11 at the State Department of Education in Boise.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

The Chapter continue to collaborate with the State Department of Education on communication around the state’s new accountability system and testing systems.

The Chapter continues to engage journalists at the web-based Idaho Education News about its coverage of state and local education issues. 

Professional development programs/activities

None

Major chapter issues or concerns

Connection to share information. A new Facebook Page was launched. 

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

Administrative support for chapters. We agreed to go ahead and charge dues last year, but dues forms weren’t created or mailed. Perhaps this type of support could be useful?

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

The state is studying a new funding formula for schools that could potentially provide much more discretion to local districts in making funding decisions.

The state changed school trustees elections to November instead of May. In the future, new trustees would take office mid-school year in January. 

Additional items of note

None

 

Oregon School Public Relations Association (OSPRA)

Alandra Johnson, President

Chapter well-being

Our membership in OSPRA continues to grow slightly. Our board meets weekly and we continue to host two professional development conferences each year – one in the spring and one in the fall. Fiscally we are holding steady and continuing to grow our reserves. In general, our members are active through conferences and through social media. 

The Facebook page is a huge draw, with members posting new items every day. Our officers respond and check on posts regularly. We also highlighted new members as they joined the group to create a welcoming atmosphere. 

We are pleased to have recently updated our bank account to offer more flexibility and have also established a PO Box — two items that we believe will help ensure consistency as we transition from year to year. 

We also completely revamped our website – www.ospra.org  — thanks to the help of one of our amazing members. We think this more professional website better reflects the professional, polished organization that we are. 

We held elections and have a new board and settled on a summer board retreat to discuss upcoming projects. 

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

This spring we handed out two awards – our Communicator of the Year to Maureen Wheeler, APR, and our NSPRA scholarship, in honor of Joe Krumm, to Maggie Kelly. This is the second year for the awards and they are becoming a new strong tradition. 

Professional development programs/activities

In April, we hosted our spring conference and we excited to bring in two nationally known keynote speakers. We had a team from Parkway Schools and also hosted Shane Haggerty, NSPRA vice president. We received excellent feedback about both speakers and want to continue to try to bring in nationally known and recognized speakers. 

Major chapter issues or concerns

No major issues or concerns at this time. 

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

We are always on the lookout for dynamic speakers. It would be great to have a vetted list of topics and experts that we could look at to help us select speakers for our conferences. 

We would love to see NSPRA come to the Northwest for the annual seminar. It would be a great show of support for school public relations in the Northwest. 

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

  • School threats. 
  • School safety. 
  • Funding, as always, is generally a top concern for Oregon districts. 
  • Other issues include: 
  • Graduation rates
  • Equity
  • Communicating with diverse audiences
  • Safety
  • Threats to schools and students
  • Mental health of students
  • Natural disasters, from snow to smoke

Additional items of note

We are excited about the progress our chapter has made this year. We are growing, active and thriving. 

 

Washington School Public Relations Association (WSPRA)

David Beil, President

Chapter well-being

WSPRA continues to grow in 2018! Membership is up 30% and NSPRA membership grew by 17% this year. We are fiscally strong with $49,000 in the bank.

Chapter projects/collaboration efforts

We implemented a new awards management and judging system this year and successfully judged 207 entries. The awards committee will continue their work to further refine this process.

Professional development programs/activities

The fall workshop started with internal communication expert Sean Williams. Sean is a national speaker, and he led a fun, interactive session, “Before the Dawn of Time: Trends in Employee Communication.” He shared tools to help us meld our internal and external communication plans and taught us about the latest trends in this increasingly important area. This keynote session was followed by three TED-style talks from local school districts: 

  • Why School Communicators Are The Best Staff Recruiters  
  • Rebuilding Trust - After A Strike 
  • Internal Buy-In Before Going To The Voters 

The winter workshop featured national speaker Tom Seeberger for a presentation titled, “Enriching Relationships One Conversation at a Time.” This session helped members become expert conversationalists so they can save time and money in their organization by knowing what to talk about and how to talk about it. This helps school districts improve evaluations, increase transparency and transform cultures. This presentation was followed by regional speaker Daniel Thigpen, who shared advice for “Reaching and Building Trust with Gen-X and Millennial Families.” The agenda also included TED-style talks from local school districts: 

  • Stories That Matter 
  • New Communication & Branding Initiatives 
  • Video Strategy 

The annual conference started with international speaker Brian Woodland. Brian challenged us with his presentation titled, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Reality TV: Putting Relationships Back Into Public Relations.” We also featured national speaker and NSPRA president Tom DeLapp with “Being Indispensable: The Communicator’s Seat at the Leadership Table.” Next, we heard from regional speaker Dane Dellenbach and his presentation, “People Love Us. Why?” Our annual conference also featured TED-style talks from WSPRA members: 

  • The One You Feed: A Parable, Positive Psychology and Creating A Culture That Supports Success For All 
  • The Moral Purpose of Community Engagement – ways to be intentional with our communities 

Major chapter issues or concerns

As a volunteer board we have struggled with finding members to take on leadership roles. It is an exciting time as a growing chapter, and we are talking with other chapters about how they have handled this challenge. 

Issues or areas that could use NSPRA regional or national support

WSPRA and NSPRA membership continues to grow in our region and we are interested in hosting the NSPRA Seminar. Seattle is beautiful in July. Our downtown is walkable and compact, boasting a variety of shops, restaurants and attractions. It’s also accessible, with more than 800 daily flights (and 77 nonstop domestic routes). There are also several options for hotel venues; we are happy to discuss details and provide NSPRA leaders with more details at your convenience.

State or local issues that NSPRA should keep an eye on

Social media threats and the negative impact on the school environment.

Additional items of note

None listed.