WAYNESFIELD—Rumor had it that Waynesfield-Goshen schools would soon drop its music programs. The grapevine also whispered that the district wanted to take over the community youth basketball program.
While it didn’t take long for both to be perceived as truth, neither bit of gossip ever was discussed by the school district.
“With all the social media and the Facebook and the Twitter, a rumor can get going that is totally wrong and then everybody builds on it,” Superintendent Chris Pfister said.
The school district is able to put rumors like these to rest with “The Rumor Mill,” a designated place on the district’s website for people to ask about rumors they have heard. The district responds, and the question remains on the site for a few months.
Wapakoneta schools is the latest district to try the tactic, putting a “Redskin Rumor Mill” on its website. A volunteer marketing committee came up with the idea in hopes of bettering communication and addressing the circulation of false information.
“Schools are hotbeds for rumors, which is unfortunate because we try very hard to keep rumors out so we can focus on our core mission,” Wapakoneta schools Superintendent Keith Horner said.
The district faced a rumor this school year about a student bringing a weapon to school. Involving police and the student’s parents, Horner said, officials quickly were able to conclude there was no threat.
“But it kind of got out of control with social media, and we had no way to combat that,” Horner said.
The incident led to the district getting its own Facebook page to help get accurate information to the public.
Anyone can email a question to the district, and officials will post it and respond. The district has some discretion as to what it posts, Horner said, when privacy issues are involved.
So far, only two people have submitted questions. One regarded why the district is limiting peanut butter; the other cleared up the specific qualifications and certification needed to be a principal. The question came because the district will be hiring a principal.
Horner hopes the web feature will help the district answer why officials and the school board make certain decisions.
“In schools, there is always information out there that you would hope people would understand about why we do what we do or what led to certain decisions that people may not understand if they were not a part of it,” he said.
The Waynesfield-Goshen Rumor Mill has been up for three years. Pfister said there are times when there have been three to four questions on the site. They are also posted on Facebook. In a small community, rumors can spread quickly, Pfister said. The site is a good way to squelch those.
“I want people to have accurate information because so often there is so much misinformation out there,” he said. “The only way to address and fix things is if you know about them."