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How I Handled...

Producing a Great
School Newsletter
Without a Budget

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Parents and our community frequently express interest in learning more about our school. They often ask, Why don't you publish a school newsletter? We wanted to find a way to do that without spending money we could ill afford or adding to our teachers' workload. The solution has turned out better than we ever expected!

The Problem:

Parents and other members of the community often express interest in keeping up with what's going on in our school. Many have suggested we publish a monthly newsletter that would keep everyone informed about what's happening around our school. Although we have an excellent Web site, many parents say they don't have time to access it regularly; also, a fair number of our students' homes are "computer-less."

Of course, I agreed that a newsletter is a great idea. I would love to publish one, but then I'd think of the cost of printing it. We're in a budget crunch, and we already need so many other things that we can't afford. And I'd think of the time element. Everyone is overworked. Finding a person who had time to create the newsletter would be difficult.

The Solution:

We recognized the need and the desire for a newsletter, so we talked about it. We are fortunate to have a number of businesses that partner with our school, and we wondered whether one of them -- or another business in the community -- might be willing to take on the task. We thought it could be a terrific advertising opportunity for them. Our search was successful. A local agency of a major national real estate firm agreed to publish the newsletter. Teachers and staff have agreed to submit articles on a deadline. With very little work and no cost, we will have a school newsletter.

The Reflection:

The first issue of our new school newsletter -- a professional looking newsletter that puts our school's best face forward -- will be published next month. A couple of other developments along the way to that first issue have made this an even better experience and partnership than we expected. Our business partner took things a step farther by soliciting other businesses in the community to purchase ads in the newsletter. The first issue will have eight ads, and the newsletter will pay for itself. Now, it's likely that the newsletter even will raise a small amount of revenue for school programs!

What a great project this has turned out to be. We have strengthened a relationship with a solid business partner, and as a result, other businesses in the community will benefit from reaching an audience -- parents with young children -- they want to reach. Who knows if some of those businesses might get more involved in our school in the future? And all of this was accomplished without adding extra burdens on our overworked staff.

About the How I Handled... Team of Principal Problem Solvers
The How I Handled... series is intended to be practical resource for all principals and principals-to-be. Each week, members of Education World's How I Handled team share how they solved actual problems relating to school leadership, parent involvement, professional development, and a host of other "principal" responsibilities. Six principals comprise our How I Handled team; two of them are elementary school principals, two work at the middle level, and two are high school principals. Team members remain anonymous; in that way, they can share freely the range of issues/problems they are called on to solve each day.

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