Warren District 121 looking to boost communications, may restart newsletter

Updated 3/28/2014 3:55 PM
  • Warren Township High School District 121 President John Anderson listens to public comment during a school board meeting Tuesday at Warren Township High School in Gurnee.

      Warren Township High School District 121 President John Anderson listens to public comment during a school board meeting Tuesday at Warren Township High School in Gurnee. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Warren Township High School officials are mulling whether to restart a newsletter in what they say would be an effort to boost communications to residents.

John Anderson, board president at Warren District 121, said officials should try to provide information to all residents regarding high school accomplishments and generally what's happening there.

"I think that's something that's going to be critically important to us as we move forward, as our needs for finances and things become more dire, as I'm sure they will in the future," Anderson said during a recent District 121 board session.

In 2009, the district sent an occasional newsletter to all households called Window to Warren, officials said. One edition provided Warren's take on former Superintendent Phil Sobocinski's final three-year contact with 6 percent annual raises and 200 extra sick days he was allowed to cash in.

Anderson said if the newsletter resumes, Warren would email it to roughly 3,600 families with students attending the high school and post the document on its website.

Plans also call for getting the updates into the hands of taxpayers without high school students.

To reach all 36,000 addresses within District 121's boundaries, Anderson said, the newsletter would be delivered via bulk mail. He said a quote from one business indicates it would cost $7,200 for black-and-white and $7,900 for color documents, including printing, folding and postage.

Warren officials said they looked into not mailing pieces to residents who would get the electronic newsletter, but it turned out such a move would be more costly.

Anderson said the bulk mail wouldn't require any addresses on it to land in all the homes. He said the district would need to individually address each newsletter if it wants to avoid the residents receiving the emailed version, which would be a costlier option.

"We're getting better at communicating," he said. "We want to get better."

Officials also are considering a suggestion from Warren Superintendent Mary Perry Bates to get high school news into material distributed to parents from Woodland Elementary District 50 and Gurnee Elementary District 56. Districts 56 and 50 feed students into Warren.

District 121 isn't alone in looking to improve communications. The topic recently arose at Grayslake Elementary District 46, where officials are considering whether to hire a public relations firm to assist them.

Jasculca/Terman and Associates Inc. of Chicago is offering services such as creating a "customized communications tool kit" and media training for District 46 officials. It would cost $12,674 for the balance of the 2013-14 budget season if the school board wants to purchase all four parts of Jasculca/Terman's proposal.

Twitter: @DHBobSusnjara

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