Shenendehowa Central School District officials say they are hoping to streamline communication with the public and limit the spread of rumors with the launch of a new Internet blog and after-hours telephone service.
The Shenedehowa Central School District blog “Heard It Through The Grapevine” can be found at www.shenet.org/grapevine. The after hours phone number for the district is 518-371-4004.
The blog, or Web log, is called “Heard It Through The Grapevine” and can be accessed through the school district’s Web site. District spokeswoman Kelly DeFeciani said it was launched Friday to help answer questions that the district commonly receives.
“Although we’re a big district, the grapevine is pretty small here,” she said. “We thought this would be a good place to kind of answer questions that come up pretty consistently.”
The district has 9,650-students. One of the questions DeFeciani answered recently on the blog related to Christopher Culver, the former Okte Elementary School teacher, who pleaded guilty in November to molesting eight boys in his class.
She explained on the blog that Culver had to be placed on paid leave under state law while his case was pending and that he was placed on suspension without pay following his guilty plea.
Several other questions and answers posted related to senior privileges at the high school, snow days and district capacity.
“There’s a lot of people who have the questions but just don’t ask them,” DeFeciani said. “This will also just help provide information to people in general.”
Superintendent of Schools L. Oliver Robinson said that the new blog and phone line will clear up misinformation that can be spread by rumors.
“It’s the ballpark conversations; people are at the playground and play fields and one person says something and people overhear,” he said. “Because we’re a huge district, I think it happens much more frequently.”
Robinson also said the blog would help parents ask questions and get information easily. The site has a form that visitors can fill out to send a question to school officials.
“We see the benefit of it, to hear it directly from the source to minimize the misinterpretation that sometimes happens with grapevine conversations,” he said. “We want to give people a vehicle to share information with us.”
The after-hours phone number was created so parents and students can contact the district when the school is closed.
DeFeciani cited an incident last year when a bus was late to a field trip. Parents had no way of notifying the district since the school was closed at the time.
Now callers can leave a message at the number and campus security will direct the issue to the proper school official.
“There was another incident where people had heard about a rumor and wanted answers,” DeFeciani said. “We realized when these things come up there’s really nowhere to get in touch with someone.”
The blog is available at www.shenet.org/grapevine and the after hours number is 371-4004.
DeFeciani cautioned that the number should not be used in emergencies.
“If you come by and see a fire in one of our buildings or something, call 911, not this line,” she said.
More from The Daily Gazette: