Curious about how school districts leverage newsletters and the most common communication struggles they face? We’ve gone straight to the source. We surveyed K12 school communicators about the ins-and-outs of their school district newsletters and their biggest challenges for 2020.

In this post, we’re bringing our findings to you, highlighting some of the most compelling things that we learned about the state of K12 school district newsletters. Is your school district getting the most out of its newsletter? Here’s what you need to know.

Who Are the Audiences for School District Newsletters?

Every marketer knows that you need to have a keen idea of who your audience is before you can effectively communicate with them. We asked respondents to tell us which stakeholders they are communicating with in their school newsletters. For the respondents we surveyed:

  • At least 82 percent said internal/staff are part of their audience
  • 80 percent said they communicate with parents
  • The school board – 70 percent
  • Local media – 25 percent
  • Whoever is interested and has signed up to receive it – 12.5 percent


If you’re like most K12 school districts sending your newsletter to multiple audiences, it’s important to segment your contacts and adjust your newsletter content as needed depending on what each group needs to know. Internal staff, for example, are going to have very different viewpoints on what’s interesting and relevant versus parents. Smart school newsletter tools (like our own K12 Edition) include dynamic content, which allows school communicators to swap out blocks of content based on the list to which their newsletter is sent.

How are School Districts Sending Their Newsletters, and In What Format?

We consume a ton of digital content, and school districts are keeping up by making their school district newsletters accessible in multiple digital formats – in pdfs, HTML email and on their websites.

  • Over 80 percent said their newsletters are digital and are sent using an email newsletter platform
  • 34 percent said their newsletters are printed out and mailed
  • Over 19 percent said their email newsletters are digital and in HTML format
  • At least 14 percent said their newsletters are digital and sent using a PDF through a tool
  • Seven percent said their newsletters are digital and simply posted to their websites
  • Almost five percent said their newsletters are printed and sent home with students

The large majority of K12 school district newsletters are digital, and in most cases, they’re being sent out via an email marketing automation platform. Printed newsletters do still have some popularity too, though it doesn’t seem like most districts aren’t typically using students as a vehicle to deliver information.

By using more than just one tool or method to share K12 school district newsletters, school communicators are upping the bar for getting as much engagement as possible

How are Elementary and High Schools Handling Newsletters?

We asked school communicators if their schools sent out their own newsletter in addition to the district school newsletter.

Of the districts we surveyed, we were surprised that 17.5 percent said that their schools are not taking the opportunity to send out a newsletter. Among the schools who do send their own newsletter communication, digital and printed newsletters are being produced to reach stakeholders wherever they engage most:

  • 27.5 percent are printing and sending a newsletter home with students, while 7.5% are mailing out printed newsletters
  • 32.5 percent are sending newsletters as a pdf document via their school’s notification system
  • 20 percent are using their notification system to send HTML newsletters
  • 45 percent use an HTML newsletter platform, like BenchmarkONE K12 edition
  • 12.5 percent are keeping their website up to date with their latest school newsletter

What Are the Most Common Methods for Adding New Email Recipients?

Unlike traditional brands, school districts don’t necessarily have a team of people who are committed to keeping the contact list updated. To add new email recipients:

  • 69.2 percent sync up with their Student Information System (SIS)
  • 30.7 percent use a website sign-up form
  • 25.6 percent manually add new contact from their SIS


Once again, diversity in methods is probably best. If you’re just syncing your contacts up or manually adding them from your SIS, also add on a website form that automatically connects to your email platform (or wherever you’re storing your contacts) so that you can get as many new sign-ups as possible.

What Are School Communicators’ Biggest Frustrations with School District Newsletters?

We asked school communicators about their biggest challenges, and they didn’t hold back. Some of what we heard in response:

“Our buildings don’t understand that less can be more and a higher frequency doesn’t mean you are doing twice the work.” 

Hint: Learn about how to create the optimal school newsletter schedule.

“Getting all of the info to fit into the size of an email. And manually having to go through SIS to update new families that have withdrawn is a pain.”

Hint: BenchmarkONE K12 Edition allows FTP upload, making it easier to keep your contacts synced with SIS.

“People not reading it. There is important information included but we’re struggling with how to present it in a way stakeholders will want to read, or learn more.”

Hint: Get tips for increasing parent digital engagement.

What About Their Overall School District Newsletter Goals?

Frustrations aside, there’s a reason that K12 school districts put so much effort into their newsletters. Here’s what school communicators had to say about their goals:

“To keep internal and external audiences informed with timely, relevant information that builds and maintains relationships with our school community members and fosters pride and support.”

“We want to reach 100 percent of our parents and employees, [and] we also want our news and info made available to any media outlets or community supporters who are interested in receiving it.”

So what else? Other goals mentioned included keeping the community informed, sharing information among buildings, and making it easy for the superintendent to communicate with staff.

Whether you share these goals (and challenges) or not, we hope you’ve learned some interesting things from our school district newsletter survey — we know that we did!