FCS expands listening commitment
Floyd County Schools expands listening commitment with new community survey
Posted on 03/21/2011

Floyd County Schools received a commendation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in the area of communication and relationships during the AdvancEd (SACS) team’s exit review less than two weeks ago but the school system is not resting on that success. Floyd County Schools has today launched a community survey that will continue the school system’s commitment to engaging parents and the community in formulating plans for the future. The SACS review team cited the school system’s formal Intentional Listening program as a major strength and rated the system “Highly Functional” in communications and relationships with the community. The survey launched today will add a vital component of listening to parents and the community to the system’s Intentional Listening program. “I know that surveys are sometimes put aside and forgotten but I hope our parents and community will look for this opportunity in their email inbox and will help us to better understand their views by taking a few minutes to participate,” said Dr. Lynn Plunkett, superintendent of Floyd County Schools. “Our system is committed to parent and community involvement in our schools and I am confident that our parents and community members will help us to continue to grow our partnership by participating in this important survey.” 

The survey’s focus is to determine school information the community would like to know more about and the most effective methods to ensure they receive the information. The survey will be delivered to the community via email and will be open through 11 p.m. on Friday, April 8. Floyd County participants are assured of confidentiality of their responses because results are being collected and tabulated by the survey firm, K12 Insights. The survey firm will provide reports to the school system that will not allow school district personnel to identity individual responses. “Listening and being responsive to parents and the community is a core value of the Floyd County Board of Education,” stated George Bevels, chairman. “Involving parents and the community in our schools is at the very heart of why and how we moved to charter system status.” 

The survey provides Floyd County an opportunity to be a part of a nation-wide effort to assist school systems across the country with communications efforts. Approximately 100 school districts across the United States and Canada are participating in the survey that Floyd County parents helped to develop. The formal research project is part of a communication accountability program of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) that was developed while Tim Hensley, APR, assistant to the Superintendent of Floyd County Schools, served as president of NSPRA in 2010. “Our goal was to provide local school systems with a resource to help them better understand the communities they serve and build stronger relationships between the schools, the parents and the community,” said Hensley. “This listening tool is a first step in what we hope will be many developed in the future to help schools and communities build the vital partnership necessary to provide opportunities for children that will lead to a bright and productive future.” Floyd County Schools is participating in this survey at no cost to the school district. 

Floyd County’s Intentional Listening program is described in the system’s report to AdvancEd as, “using empathetic listening, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, with the intention of using what you learn to meet the expectations of those served by the school system.” The school system’s Intentional Listening plan includes a variety of methods to regularly engage in this form of listening with the many different publics served by the school system. The survey launched today is a key element of Intentional Listening being expanded with parents and the community. 

Local school officials will receive the results from the community survey in late spring. The compiled results from the 100 school districts will be announced in July by NSPRA. Individual community results will not be differentiated in the national report but local communities participating will be able to compare local results with a regional and nation snapshot available from NSPRA. “We see this survey being a “win-win” for Floyd County Schools and the profession of school communication,” said Rich Bagin, APR, NSPRA’s Executive Director. “Local school districts receive new, valuable information on the type of content and delivery methods their parents and others prefer, at no cost to them. NSPRA receives the compiled results of all survey participants to begin building a base of trends now prevalent in school communications,” NSPRA is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving all facets of communication in school communities. The survey firm, K12 Insight, Inc., is donating its services for this project to NSPRA.