Albion school district debates having official school Facebook page

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 September 2019 at 9:41 am

ALBION – The Board of Education has mixed views on the school district having an official Facebook page to share news and information about the district.

Board members Elissa Nesbitt and Linda Weller said many other nearby school districts have Facebook pages that are popular in their communities.

“It’s the currency of today,” Nesbitt said at Monday’s Board of Education meeting. “A lot of parents are on Facebook.”

Weller said the district could post info on open houses, and other events.

“I’m all for it,” she said. “Let the community be more informed.”

Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent, has reservations about Facebook, mainly due to the comments that can be posted. He worries teachers and students could be harshly criticized, and the post might stay up for a while before a district employee sees it. By then it could have been shared and seen many times on the district’s official Facebook page.

“Social media is a world of faceless and sometimes lawless individuals who are sometimes not intent on doing the right thing,” Bonnewell said.

Board member David Sidari said the district has a revamped website that is loaded with information and a calendar of events.

However, Nesbitt said she doesn’t think the website gets much traffic. She said Facebook would be more popular for sharing information.

“I think that’s how people communicate now,” she said. “We can use it to our advantage if we do it right.”

Many of the Albion school programs and sports programs already have their own Facebook pages. Bonnewell said that is different from an official Facebook page for the district. He said the board needs to consider who would be in charge of posting on the page, how frequently, and who would monitor the comments. If a comment is removed the district should have a policy in place for that.

Board member Margy Brown said she has checked other districts’ Facebook pages and they often aren’t updated frequently.

“Someone needs to keep it up to date or else it’s useless,” she said.

If Albion went that route the district should consider hiring a media specialist to run the page. Otherwise it will pull away from the work of current school employees, Brown said.

She said the district has stepped up its efforts to communicate with the public with the improved website and with text alerts.

The board formed a committee with Nesbitt, Weller and Brown to look at the district having an official social media presence. The committee will reach out to other districts to see their policies and how they handle posting, and comments.

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