Volusia County Schools changes approach, renews focus on social media

The biggest Facebook group for schools-related information in Volusia County has transitioned from public to private, just as the Volusia County school district is ramping up its own communication strategies. 

The Volusia County School Forum doubled its membership over the course of the pandemic to almost 12,000 people — but recent changes to the way Facebook treats groups made it so that only members can post or comment on the page now. 

All of the existing posts — often questions posed by parents and answers from the page’s administrator and longtime school district volunteer Kim Short — are still visible to anyone who navigates to the page.

Meanwhile, communication and easy access to information has long been a point of contention in the Volusia County school district. Former Superintendent Tom Russell was ousted in part for communication problems with the board, and tensions flared in the community during the pandemic from a perceived shortage of information from the district.

Social media apps on an iPhone.

That’s partly why Short’s Facebook forum has always been a valuable resource: it’s about conversations and getting answers to specific questions, rather than one-way communication. 

“I think the difference (between information from the forum and from the district) is that ours is still a bit of a free for all — in that people can post questions and I answer them,” Short said. “I’m not 100% controlling of what I want to put out.”

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