Do board members have a role in telling school success stories? Absolutely!

By Brad Hughes
KSBA Director of Member Support/Communications Services

Quick quiz: What song from the Tony-winning Broadway musical and Oscar-winning motion picture, The Music Man, has leadership lessons for board members and superintendents? (Hint: It’s not “Shipoopi.”)

Answer: “76 Trombones.” The song clearly puts the title character, Professor Harold Hill, out front. However, that role would be meaningless without the following of “a hundred and ten cornets” and assorted other musicians in the show-ending parade.

When it comes to educating a community about what’s going on within its public school system, the superintendent has the role of the “Music Man.” And every school board member is a key player in the district’s band, orchestra or chorus. Each has both solo and ensemble performances that are vital to reaching staff, parents and other taxpaying citizens about the district’s goals and objectives.

During a couple of workshops at this year’s KSBA Annual Conference, participants posed questions tied to this subject.

Seeking opportunities
One question was pretty easy: “Is it OK for a board member to retweet (on Twitter) a district announcement that school has been called off for bad weather?”

Forwarding district-produced information to constituents should be a regular function of board members. And it shouldn’t be limited to social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

Over time, some board members have created email distribution lists of people keenly interested in a school or in districtwide issues. It’s almost a certainty that redistributing district announcements would reach people in your more personal audience bases who might have been missed by the central office communications efforts.

Others board members are themselves members of civic groups like the Rotary, Lions, Civitan and BPW. Some of these organizations have member newsletters, and most newsletter editors are in search of content. The same option applies to the program chairmen who have to fill an organization’s speaker slot at the monthly meeting. They can be easy pitch recipients for board members once a year.

Another question was a bit more complex: “Should board members be putting out their own ‘take’ on an issue when that differs from a recommendation by the superintendent?”

Giving the public all sides of a pending board decision is smart. Superintendents frequently spell out the pros and cons when making their cases for a recommended board action. Board members seeking public input must be conduits to constituents – and that should mean sharing all the factors, not just those that favor or oppose one point of view.

However, attacking an administration proposal seldom serves children in the classroom. A board member stating his or her reasons for favoring one direction is doing the job he or she was elected to. Not all votes will be 5-0 on a typical Kentucky school board. The public deserves an exploration of differences, but not to the point that criticisms undermine the credibility of fellow board members or the superintendent.

Bottom line? Creating an engaged community requires a team – or, if you will, a band – to spread the word. The superintendent, aka the band director, isn’t always going to get perfect pitch from the trumpet section, but it often takes a good brass corps to really sell the tune to the audience.

The Last Word
Another test for your imagination.

Michael Jordan may be the greatest player in the history of the National Basketball Association, but without the other Chicago Bulls players, he wouldn’t have six NBA championship rings.

Sir Paul McCartney has had an incredible career as a solo artist, but does anyone really think he would be so revered if he hadn’t started as a member of the Beatles?

One staple in the speeches by Kentucky’s outstanding superintendents and school board members at the KSBA conference is the reference to the importance of the other members of the district leadership team. They don’t differentiate between director or a player. They share a common theme of working together to produce a symphony of support for teachers and students in the classroom.

And that’s a message worth getting out.

Written for the KSBA Kentucky School Advocate, April 2015. Published with permission.


Summary of April 23 KYSPRA Board Meeting

The KYSPRA Board of Directors met on April 23, 2015 in Bardstown. The following is a summary of discussion and action taken.

KYSPRA Reports:
Linda Salyer, the KYSPRA Association Manager, reported a total fund balance of $23,167.35 and 102 members with all dues paid. Invoices have been sent to districts with payment due. (This is also a gentle reminder if you’ve received an invoice.)

Organizational Reports:

  • Todd Piccirilli of KET shared that of 100 PBS Digital Innovators recognized this year, 4 were from Kentucky and a Lead Digital Innovator was recognized from Madison County.
  • Also good news: KET Programs are now offering embed codes for videos so districts may share KET videos directly on their websites.
  • Madelynn Coldiron of KSBA shared upcoming changes for the OASIS Professional Development Program. Watch your inbox, more information will be coming to members soon.
    • The entries are going paperless! (No more binders!) 
    • The cost of entries will be $45 ($10 less!)
  • Lisa Deffendall, KYSPRA representative for KASA shared information about the upcoming annual conference which will be held July 15-17. at the Galt House in Louisville: (Click here for details.) She also shared how discussion and concerns among KASA members has been about the teacher retirement fund future, “pension spiking” and sick leave, and also the amount of administrator time being spent on PGES. 

New Business:

Tracy Green,
2015-16 Treasurer
  • Election of a treasurer and introducing 2015-16 Officers: 
    • After an online election, Tracy Green of Oldham County Schools has been elected KYSPRA Treasurer for 2015-16.
    • Per the bylaws, upon election of the new officer, Cindy Williams becomes President for 2015-16, Tom Dekle will serve as President-Elect, and Wayne Walden, Secretary.
  • Purchase of a computer & software for Association Manager:
    • The Board voted to replace the computer used by Linda Salyer for KYSPRA records.
    • It was approved for Linda to purchase a computer, printer, extended warranty, software, and carrying case for no more than $2,500. 
    • The computer will be the property of KYSPRA for four years, and all financial and membership records are to be stored in an online file accessible by members of the Executive Committee.
    • Beginning in July the Association will budget $500 per year as a savings plan to replace equipment in approximately 5 years.
  • Association Manager Stipend:
    • The Board of Directors voted to increase the Association Manager stipend by $100 per month for a total of $300 per month for her work with membership and financial records. The increase will begin with the new chapter year in 2015-16.
  • Potential Collaboration with NSPRA Mid-East Chapters: 
    • Plans are being discussed to collaborate with NSPRA-Affiliate Chapters in our NSPRA Region to provide professional development and networking. Chapter Presidents and Board Members from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and the Chesapeake Chapter (Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland) are planning to meet at the NSPRA seminar in July to discuss opportunities.
  • Fall Conference 2015:
    • Tom Dekle is planning the fall conference to be held in Bardstown in early November. Look for “Save the Date” information from him soon!

Old Business:

  • Website Redesign: No report was presented and therefore discussion tabled for the first fall meeting.
  • KYSPRA Scholarship:
    • Beginning next fall, the Board of Directors plans to offer a new professional scholarship to the fall conference, including registration and a travel stipend for an individual to attend their first KYSPRA conference. This could be for an individual new to school PR or in a district considering adding a PR position. The scholarship will funded using revenue from the annual silent auction held at the fall conference. More discussion and details to follow.
  • Spring Professional Development:
    • “KYSPRA Connect” mini-conferences are coming up with opportunities to network and attend with limited travel and cost to districts. John Wright will host the first on May 5, in Elizabethtown at the Hardin Co. Schools Early College and Career Center. Wayne Walden and Paducah Public Schools will host on May 6. Plans are being made for a third session to be held in Lexington in June.
    • For more info about the session in Elizabethtown, contact John Wright:
    • For more about the session in Paducah, contact Wayne Walden:
  • KYSPRA Social Media:
    • Click here to view a handout regarding statistics from the KYSPRA Twitter account and blog. The Association has doubled the number of Twitter followers since July and added 46 blog posts! 

I hope everyone has a great rest of the school year!


Leslie McCoy
KYSPRA President, 2014-15

Ideas for Celebrating and Recognizing on Administrative Professonals Day

By Tracy Green
Oldham County Schools

Administrative Professionals Day may be a Hallmark Holiday, but it is still a reminder that our administrative professionals — secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists, etc. — support us every day. Without them, most of our districts would be an absolute disaster!
In Oldham County, we presented each of our admin pros with a token of appreciation — bags of Goldfish crackers with cheesy sayings on them. (Photo) That idea came from a great book called “100+ Ways to Recognize and Reward Your School Staff.” Many of our directors supplemented this small treat with their own gift, but we liked ensuring a sense of equity by making sure everyone received the same gift, too, and that nobody was left out.
I also make it a habit to remind principals to recognize their admin pros, and I email all of our office managers to tell them thanks, too. 
Some other fun ideas from across the state:
At Owensboro Independent, KSYPRA Board member Dave Kirk assembled district-themed pens and notes during the Final Four tournament (photo).

 In Bowling Green Independent, the leadership team shared the cost of providing lunch for their central office assistants. “They almost never get to enjoy something catered unless it’s leftovers from another meeting,” said KYSPRA president Leslie McCoy. And those same staff are usually tasked with ordering, setting up and cleaning up. An administrator also worked the reception desk through lunch — set up the room for lunch and the leadership team took care of clean up.

And, at KSBA HQ, our own Brad Hughes manned the phones while support staff had a pizza party.

KYSPRA Board of Directors: Meeting Agenda April 23, 2015

Kentucky School Public Relations Association
Board of Directors
April 23, 2015
11:00 a.m. Eastern Time
Mammy’s Kitchen, 116 W. Stephen Foster Avenue
, Bardstown, Kentucky
Call Meeting to Order

1.       Financial, Linda Salyer
2.       Membership, Linda Salyer
3.       Regional Reports
4.       Organizational Reports
New Business:
1.       Election of a Treasurer for 2015-16 (voting ends April 22)
2.       Purchase of KYSPRA computer & software for Association Manager: Information provided by Linda Salyer
3.       Potential Collaboration with Mid-East Regional Chapters, Leslie McCoy
4.       Fall Conference 2015, Tom Dekle
Old Business:
1.       Website Redesign
2.       KYSPRA Scholarship Discussion
3.       Spring Professional Development Report

JCPS Shares Dropout Prevention Images

Jefferson County Public Schools are using a multi-faceted approach to raise awareness about the new compulsory attendance policy, which takes effect next school year. Eleven different posters and image designs by Dodie Wrocklage-Harp are circulating Louisville, and soon the Commonwealth of Kentucky, because JCPS has graciously shared their work with KYSPRA for use in all schools!

Background info: Kentucky’s new compulsory attendance policy will begin next year. In the spring of 2013, Senate Bill 97 raised the attendance age to 18, and the policy was voluntary until 55% of districts adopted the policy. After 55% was reached, the statute mandated all district adopt the policy within two years. As of January 14, 2015, all 173 districts adopted the policy to raise the attendance age to 18.

What does this mean? Students that have already or are planning to drop out out under the current law (at age 16 with parent/guardian permission) will be required to re-enroll in school next year and attend until they are at least 18 years of age.
The task: communicating the new law and preventing dropouts in all Kentucky schools.
The JCPS posters and images target teens that are at-risk of dropping out of school and feature retro-characters and blunt truths that are noticeably different than most school campaigns. Prior to launching, JCPS spent two days working with focus groups, including twenty teens that had dropped out of school, gauging the effectiveness of the images. The unique characters and honest “wake-up calls” were popular among teens in the target audience.

Three copies of each of the poster have been printed and shared with all middle and high schools in JCPS. Images have also been shared with community-based non-profit organizations that work closely with at-risk teens, and are being shared on social media, with hopes of generating a more teen-initiated viral campaign.
Click here to access all images and if your district would like images with a higher resolution, please contact Mandy Simpson at
A special thanks to Mandy Simpson ( and Dodie Wrocklage-Harp ( for sharing their work with Kentucky public schools!

Courier-Journal story with more info on the campaign.

Next Month: Regional Professional Development Opportunities

Please mark your calendars for our KYSPRA regional half day conferences that will be offered in May. The conferences will offer an excellent opportunity to network with colleagues and sharpen your skills without investing a lot of time and money.

You’ll find details for the West and Central conferences below. 

***Specifics for the east regional conference will be forthcoming soon.*** 

Central Region
The central region conference date is Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at the Hardin County Schools Early College & Career Center (200 University Dr., Elizabethtown, KY). It will run from 11 am until 2 pm EASTERN time.

The Schedule:

  • 11 am — Kenny Rambo (VP/Heartland Communications) will discuss marketing strategies for your district – Steps you can take to make sure people know the tune of the horn you are blowing. He will also discuss consistent messaging strategies. 
  • 11:40 — Lunch 
  • Noon — Sherry Murphy (Director, Elizabethtown Tourism) will discuss marketing your area of Kentucky – How do you make your community/area of Kentucky marketable to families/young teachers? 
  • 12:40 — Break 
  • 12:45 — Ben Sheroan (Editor-in-Chief, The News-Enterprise) will discuss strategies on working with media – Creating beneficial and positive relationships with members of the media. 

For more information, contact John Wright at

West Region
The west region conference will be held Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at the Paducah Public Schools Central Office, 800 Caldwell St., Paducah, KY) It will begin at 11:00 a.m. (CST) and conclude at 3:00 p.m.

The Schedule:

  • 11:00 a.m. Lunch catered by Midtown Market 
  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Jonas Neihoff, President, Socially Present, “Using Social Media to Tell Your District’s Story” 
  • 12: 45 – 1:45 Laura Schaumburg, Marketing Director, Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau, “Making Your District A Destination”. 
  • 2:00 – 3:00 Monica Bilak, Paducah Public Schools, Transitional and Strategic Planning Coordinator, “Tools for Listening to Your Stakeholders” 

For more information, contact Wayne Walden at