If You Don’t Speak, They Won’t Hear

by Joseph H. Quick, WSPRA Board Member, WASB Government Relations Specialist

The month of May is a critical time to have parents, teachers, staff and members of the community contact local state legislators about key items in the state budget for one’s school district.

How to Make Contact

When making contact with legislators, be specific and narrow regarding a request. Ideally, meet face-to-face to talk about how revenue limit cuts are hurting opportunities for students. Whether it’s a school district eliminating SAGE, reducing the number of extracurricular offerings, or cutting back on a Gifted and Talented program, the key is to tell one’s stories.

The Story to Tell

Legislators typically refer to stories from constituents when they debate bills. Don’t stop at telling them about financial hardships. Focus on the needs that will go unmet and put a human face on the cuts necessary to comply with state-imposed revenue limits.If a personal visit cannot be arranged, call legislators at home on Friday or Monday, when they are usually in their legislative district. Express concerns and ask them if they will support important budget initiatives. A letter or e-mail are options, but again, have specific and targeted concerns. Always ask if they support your position, and if communicating in writing, indicate a desire for a response.

Be Cordial

Be cordial, tell one’s stories, and ask the legislator if he or she supports the school district’s position. If a school district’s hardships are not brought to the people elected to represent them at the Capitol, help will never materialize.

About the author

The Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) is a professional association representing schools, school districts, educational associations, consulting agencies and organizations. WSPRA is a state affiliate of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). 4797 HAYES ROAD | SUITE 103 | MADISON, WI 53704 | PHONE: 608-241-0300 | WSPRA@AWSA.ORG