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October 2011-June 30, 2012 Budget Communications Plan

Goals Reinforce that CMS primary business is educating students while budget

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools


decisions are discussed, made and communicated. Be first point of information for employees as the budget is discussed and decisions are made. Be first point of information for engaged community members. Keep the community (parents, partners and concerned citizens) updated of budget discussion and decisions. Communicate directly to the public the reasons for decisions that are made relating to budget. Benchmarks: Execution of tactics in a timely manner, at or above expected quality Opinion leader/advisory group feedback (informal, qualitative) Regular engagement in e-mails, social media Audiences Internal: CMS employees External: CMS parents/family members, community leaders, business partners, media Major Strategies Inform internal and external stakeholders as budget process progresses Increase transparency of CMS decision-making processes on budget development

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis: Strengths: Academics are improving in CMS Since 2006, CMS has reduced or redirected millions of dollars in funding CMS is being proactive in looking at cost savings by closing and consolidating some schools Weaknesses: Turnaround time for posting information and crafting messaging often leads to employees and community members get information first from local media Too few communications staff members to effectively handle internal and external budget communication needs Employees and public leery after closings, consolidations and previous RIFs. Employees are already stretched thin and have little time to engage for budget communications Opportunities: Social media can be used to improve communication turnaround time and transparency Community leaders can be engaged in process to increase transparency Threats: Social media can be a place where misinformation is developed and rapidly disseminated Vocal members of community are openly critical of CMS and efforts to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Local media often not regularly engaged and can communicate inaccurate information


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CMS is facing a $50 million funding cliff in 2011-2012 as ARRA and other short-term funding ends The state has requested state agencies like CMS develop five percent, 10 percent and 15 percent reduction options for the 2011-12 school year. The state indicated these reductions will be ongoing. CMS is looking at saving money by closing and consolidating some schools. BEST PRACTICES TO CONSIDER IN COMMUNICATION A recent survey done on employee communications said during times of change such as these, companies must: o Go beyond providing managers with talking points and information in advance of changes. Companies must prepare managers to lead employees through significant change. o Allow managers some time to come to terms with the organizational changes on a personal level before asking them to help employees. (Towers Watson, 2010) Effective communication must: o Include a variety of channels o Include interactivity to overcome passivity o Recognize and use the grapevine judiciously o Build in opportunities for cross-organization communication (Effective Internal Communications, Lyn Smith with Pamela Mounter, 2008) People have always said good and bad things about brands, and now that social media has risen in popularity, it means people have another platform to talk about your company and products/services. The major difference, however, is in the viral nature of this platform. When someone mentions your brand in social media, there is much more potential for other people to notice, and it's monumentally easier for conversations to spread much more quickly and easily. In addition, these conversations have the potential to reach a much larger audience than ever before. If your company is not participating in social media today, its missing an opportunity to spread its message and missing valuable and even damaging conversations that could be taking place about your brand. (How to Leverage Social Media for Public Relations Success, Pamela Seiple, 2010)


Oct. 29 (SOOS and launch of social media for budget) Budget work sessions Board meetings Transfer Fair RIF deadlines Other dates, as identified



Relaunch budgetquestions@cms e-mail address, include automatic response: Thank you for contacting Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. We do appreciate your feedback. Please understand that we may not be able to
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What is being discussed (and why) What is being decided (and why) How decisions (cuts to funding, changes to class sizes, etc.) will affect the school structure, job responsibilities, etc. How they can be a voice in the budget discussions.



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reply immediately to you, but we are doing our best to answer questions and keep everyone informed. Logged and updated daily Budget Bulletins assembled on Thursday Develop ideas for flip camera videos on budget process (can link to questions) Man on the street: Do people know how many teachers $1 million saves? CMS funding versus other local districts Man on the street: What would you cut in CMS (a pitch to submit ideas, suggestions and come out to Meck Ed community forums) Why are transportation costs high? Why not increase costs for food and food services? Where is the lottery money?


Staff E-mail regarding op-ed about CCI and budget discussions What were facing Whats next Two-minute video from Dr. Gorman addressing severity of this years budget crisis. Establish Intranet Page Create fact v. fiction Intranet site. Employees can submit a rumor they heard and have it confirmed or not. Post running log of questions on the Intranet (and Internet, as applicable), updating every 2-3 days. At weeks end, use questions for budget bulletin. UPDATE INTERNAL GROUPS Attend meetings and update the following groups on the budget, as well as take feedback and questions: STAC Bus drivers Cafeteria managers Teacher assistants Counselors, psychologists, social workers CMAEOP PLAT Media specialists LM Auxiliary services staff Principals Retirees Volunteer coordinators Other groups, as determined
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Start Start

End End


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Toolkit Establish toolkit for staff to use when discussing budget Talking points o What we cut this year o What will cuts mean for education o What cuts will mean for jobs o How CMS was cut versus other districts across the state o Timeline Staff meetings Meetings with top officials at Ed Center to answer questions and talk directly with staff who have concerns (keep schedule)


Op-Ed from Dr. Gorman/Eric Davis regarding budget (comprehensive review end, budget beginning) Two-minute video from Dr. Gorman addressing severity of this years budget crisis (for public). Monthly update video, cataloged on CMS Web site and YouTube Email to CCI attendees informing them that we have begun planning and inviting them to continue their participation in CMS decision-making process. Look for work session, community meeting dates Invite district officials to meetings to discuss the budget Establish Budget Web page Create a fact v. fiction Internet site. It can be updated as information becomes available. Post running log of questions on the Internet (and Intranet, as applicable), updating every 2-3 days. At weeks end, use questions for budget bulletin. Create subject-driven links (class size, staff reductions, lottery, transportation costs, etc.) Create page of how CCI affected budget with link to CCI page Create page detailing funding sources and how they affect the budget (local, state, federal, including funding cliff) Tweet during budget work sessions and board meetings, updating information every 5-10 minutes. Meet with Budget staff, presenters ahead of time to discuss information that can be
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tweeted during session. This will minimize difficulty clarifying information before tweets are sent. Post hashtag on Facebook informing fans they can follow budget discussions on Twitter. Media releases after budget work sessions Link all news releases to Facebook Link news releases Wordpress Tweet link to news releases Involve youth groups in getting information out about the budget with suggestions on things they can do to inform people Kids Voting School Government Associations School clubs MECK ED Develop budget presentation for Meck Ed with information about budget projections, cuts and possible affects in schools. Have Meck Ed hold Budget 101 Community Forum Have Meck Ed include budget information on Web site, in ongoing communications. Community Partner meetings Set up small-group meetings with community partners to: Outline current budget crisis Gather their feedback about how they believe we should address it Gather their ideas about how they can help us How they plan to realign resources to help students they have been assisting at schools slated for closure (if applicable) Ask them to share accurate information about the budget situation Partners would include: Businesses Faith partners Local agencies BUDGET ROAD SHOW Develop a budget PowerPoint presentation for executive staff to: Share budget information with all boards on which they are seated Attend community meetings to answer questions about budget situation and process with: o Neighborhood associations o Non-profit groups o Public-service organizations o PTAs o Faith-based organizations
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Other groups, as identified


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SOCIAL MEDIA INFORMATION (for posting purposes)

Facebook Admins: Judith Malveaux Lauren Bell (TBD) Kathleen Johansen (TBD) LaTarzja Henry (TBD) Twitter Account: CMS_Schools E-mail account: CMSCommunications (password cm101) Password: cmscommunications2010 Employee Twitter: CMSEmployees E-mail account: Judith.Malveaux (password judith529) Password: cmscommunications YouTube Channel: E-mail account: CMSCommunications (password cm101) Password: cmscommunications2010 Hootsuite: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools E-mail account: CMSCommunications Password: cmscommunications2010 Other Social Media sites for possible use: Wordpress (blogging site) FourSquare (to update people on where CMS officials are and have been to do budget presentations) LinkedIn (page already edited)


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