News and Tribune


January 26, 2012

OUR OPINION: NA-FC schools, we need to talk

JEFFERSONVILLE — On Friday, a group of Thomas Jefferson Elementary fifth-graders from the Greater Clark County Schools graduated from the Drug Abuse Resistance Education — or DARE — program. Some of you may have read the story or looked at the two photos in the weekend edition of the News and Tribune.

The week before, Providence High School art students showed off their bowls for the annual Empty Bowls luncheon which helps bring awareness to the homeless problem in the area. A story with photos appeared in the News and Tribune.

And then there is the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. So, what good and fun things are happening with the 11,000-plus students in that corporation?

That’s a good question ... one we have been asking since the start of the school year.

While we still cover board meetings and write stories about personnel changes and ISTEP scores, events going on at particular schools or classrooms — like DARE graduations or guest speakers — are rarely sent our way. With no public relations specialist directly employed by NA-FC Schools, we hear very little communication from the corporation.

Events that were once covered or should be covered by the News and Tribune are not. We can’t cover something if we don’t know about it. We want to be in the schools, as we have been for decades. All we need is an invitation. To that end, we recently emailed all principals in the school system, asking them to let us know about events at their respective schools.

Also, in recent weeks Pam Crump, assistant to the superintendent, has been sending newsletters from elementary schools, which helps. But there are three middle schools and three high schools, including Prosser. The school corporation has hired New Albany-based ProMedia to handle its communications. But ProMedia’s expertise is making video presentations, not providing information or story ideas to newspapers. We also have been told by ProMedia representatives that the school corporation is not interested in promoting the fluffy features, only the academic successes of the corporation.

If that is a new policy, it’s a terrible one. We are all about highlighting academic successes in our corporations, but the schools and the public can have both — it’s not one or the other. Parents, grandparents and residents want to see or read about students involved in activities within the corporation. It’s a large school system with interesting events going on each day, but unless a principal, teacher or counselor calls us, we hear nothing. A school system the size of NA-FC needs a point person responsible for communications with the public.

Greater Clark has a communications director who does a great job, which means you see or read about plenty of things happening there. Even Clarksville Community Schools, a much smaller district with only three schools, has a communications director.

But for some reason, it seems like the NA-FC Schools has little interest in showing off its kids. There are great things going on in the school system, despite ongoing budget cuts and teacher layoffs. And the NA-FC School Corp. should welcome some feel-good publicity.

We pride ourselves on being a good community-based daily newspaper with tons of local stories and photos in the paper each day. Part of every good community is an excellent school system and we are lucky to have several in Clark and Floyd counties. All we want to do is showcase those schools on a daily basis.

The NA-FC School Corp. has so many outstanding students, teachers and administrators ... all we want to do is be allowed in the front door so we can share those folks with the community.

As we tell other districts, we can’t promise to be at every event, but we will do the best we can to take photos or write about as many events as we can on a daily basis. All we want is for NA-FC School Corp. to give us that chance.

— The News and Tribune editorial board is comprised of Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Shea Van Hoy and Assistant Editors Chris Morris and Amy Huffman-Branham.

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