Wednesday, Jan. 30 2013 7:14AM
R-7 SCHOOL DISTRICT
Audit finds strong points for R-7
18-month period reviewed
By Toriano Porter
A communication audit conducted on behalf of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District concluded four common themes dominate the district’s communications efforts.
The audit conducted by Patron Insight found over an 18-month period that the R-7 district, its staff and its students: are regularly recognized for excellence, both at a macro and micro level; have a lot of events, activities, programs, etc.; are active fundraisers, with many causes seeking support; and the district is faced with multiple financial challenges and is working hard to address them as effectively as possible.
Ken DeSieghardt of Patron Insight presented the audit’s findings to the R-7 school board Jan. 24 during its monthly meeting.
Patron Insight reviewed 18 months worth of written and electronic communications from both the district level and from individual schools to gauge the district’s communications efforts. The evaluation included interviews and focus group discussion sessions emphasizing the district’s communications strengths and shortcomings.
“Kudos are due to the communications department for its efforts in providing a detailed collection of appropriate samples from numerous forms of media, and different types of content and story complexity, to provide a complete picture of the efforts by the district over the previous 18 months,” DeSieghardt said.
A total of eight focus groups were offered as part of the audit – three for staff members, three for parents and one for non-parents – and the district’s citizens’ advisory committee served as a focus group during a meeting in October. An online survey, made available to all community members, was also conducted.
“Over the course of several months of data collection, utilizing various methodologies, a clear picture began to emerge about the district’s past, present and future, in terms of its brand and communications strategies,” DeSieghardt said.
That pictured included, among other findings, that the district:
Delivers a high-quality education, offering many options for students with all types of skill levels, and varied academic and extracurricular interests.
Challenges students to perform well on tests and tend to do well in college as a result.
Has facilities that are modern, and that enable teachers to teach and students to learn.
Has highly qualified staff members who seem, for the most part, to care about the students they are teaching, giving the district a real “family feel.”
Does a good job of keeping parents and others in the community informed on activities, dates and events.
Is growing, in terms of student population.
Patrons pay high taxes to support the school district.
DeSieghardt summarized the district’s communication efforts by stating: “The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District has built a brand of educational excellence, based on the quality of its staff, the effectiveness of its facilities and the success of its students. There is little question among key stakeholder groups that the schools in this district help to make Lee’s Summit a desirable destination for individuals and families.
“The brand of the schools themselves appears to be impeccable. What this audit discovered, however, is that the district’s brand does not always benefit from the strength of feelings for the individual schools, and that efforts to communicate district-specific messages have been met with mixed results.”
In other district news, Jeff Meisenheimer, currently assistant principal at Lee’s Summit High School, was named principal for Lee’s Summit North High School by the board of education at the meeting.
Meisenheimer will replace Lisa Jacques, who is retiring this summer. He has served as assistant principal at LSHS since 2004 after previously working for four years as assistant principal at Ruskin High School. Meisenheimer also taught business in the Hickman Mills School District.
In 2010, Meisenheimer was named Missouri Assistant Principal of the Year and was also selected as a finalist for National Assistant Principal of the Year. He has served as a presenter for the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals.
Meisenheimer earned his bachelor’s degree in business education from the University of Missouri-Columbia, his master’s and specialist degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is working toward a doctorate in education from St. Louis University.