Two years ago, the began brainstorming how to increase communication with parents about school notices and outside organizations’ events, minus all the fliers. The loose-leaf papers from the district, the individual schools, and outside organizations would inundate folders, causing important notices to often get lost.
To streamline communication in a more organized manner, the district partnered with the non-profit Redwood City Education Foundation (RCEF) and Paul Maynes, to produce the monthly magazine Our Schools Our Town that contains news updates and all the flier announcements in advertisement form.
“It’s a great example of the community working together that exceeded any of our dreams,” said district Communications Director Naomi Hunter. “It’s a win-win-win.”
Distributing information to 9,200 district students was a cumbersome process. This meant 9,000 pieces of paper, with the backside or a separate sheet with a Spanish translation, possibly increasing the number of fliers to 18,000. The cost of printing an advertisement in Our Schools Our Town is equivalent or even less than printing this many copies, Hunter said.
Advertisements can range from $75 for a business card size color advertisement for non-profits to a $600 full page ad. This can be hundreds of dollars cheaper than printing 10,000 fliers at 7 to 12 cents, according to Paul Maynes, publisher of Our Schools Our Town.
Part of the advertising profits, possibly as high as 25 percent, will also benefit the Foundation. However, the exact percentage depends on how profitable the magazine can be, Maynes said.
“With dwindling resources, we tried a more efficient way to cut down on the amount of time screening and printing fliers,” Hunter said. “It was also a way to reduce the financial burden on our partners, many of whom are non-profits.”
The district has kept a list of all the organizations who have ever distributed fliers to students through the district, then notified the organizations of the transition to the magazine.
The magazine will not only include these announcement advertisements, but a monthly letter from the district superintendent Jan Christensen.
“I think this is a fabulous idea,” Christensen said.
The Foundation, which that would otherwise be cut due to budget constraints, will also receive space in the newsletter.
“It was a brilliant idea that could also benefit RCEF,” Sokolov said. “It’s eye-catching, beautiful and informative.”
Sokolov said this could generate more publicity around the foundation, which has been instrumental in sustaining programs.
“Most parents don’t know what RCEF is,” Sokolov said. “Now parents can realize, ‘Oh that’s why my child has music in her classroom!’” Other foundation updates could include highlights of one of the many programs it supports or a column to highlight a volunteer.
The district no longer has to deal with all the paper work of screening the fliers or handle the distribution. Their contribution to the magazine will now be the superintendent letter, updates and calendar events, Hunter said.
Rather than the Boy Scouts of America having to print 9,000 copies of fliers, the organization now has a full-age advertisement on page 6 of this month's magazine.
“It’s going to come into homes on a regular basis and be an experience that they can actually look forward to every month,” Sokolov said.
Paul Maynes, a local community member, saw the opportunity to not only help schools increase communication, but to help the business community have access to better local print advertising.
“We’re offering a local print product that can touch all of Redwood City,” Maynes said.
Currently, the magazine is distributed to every child in the district, but Maynes is considering mailing the magazines home. Though this results in a greater cost, it increases value for the advertiser to ensure that the magazines make it all the way home.
“This makes good business sense,” Maynes said. “Here’s an opportunity to be heard, and it helps the school activities that the foundation.”
Correction: Once the magazine is available online, Patch will post the URL.