The Pickerington Local School District is using a new electronic tool to communicate with parents and students and to quash rumors floating throughout the community.

The Pickerington Local School District is using a new electronic tool to communicate with parents and students and to quash rumors floating throughout the community.

On July 12, district officials lifted the lid on the "PLSD Heard it Through the Grapevine" blog on its website, www.pickerington.k12.oh.us.

The online forum is the district's latest tool to improve communications with parents, students and others in the community. It follows enhancements to a district newsletter and text- and e-mail-based alerts implemented over the past two school years.

The blog also is designed to dispel misguided hearsay.

"This is an opportunity for the community to ask questions and clarify rumors as they arise," said Lee Cole, PLSD communications director. "Not all questions will be answered, and it may take some time to get answers to certain questions. However, we will be as expedient as possible.

"For individual or private concerns, they will be encouraged to contact the school or district office directly. We will not answer questions about specific individuals by name."

The "rumor blog" will be available year-round, Cole said. It was created entirely in-house, and no funds were required for its establishment.

According to Cole, visitors can submit questions or comments via the district website. The submissions will be electronically routed to the district's communications department and then passed on to appropriate departments for answers.

District responses will be posted on the website once appropriate information is collected, she said.

"We are using technology to reach out to the community and answer their questions," PLSD Superintendent Karen Mantia said. "This does not replace face-to-face interaction. However, it does allow community members who are not able to attend after-school meetings or other district events to ask important questions and get the answers."

The new blog won't require visitors to register. Rather, Cole said, users can type questions or comments into the blog's submission box and hit "send."

"It is basically an interactive page," she said. "A question is submitted and we provide the answer.

"We hope to answer questions and clarify rumors that are going on in the community," Cole said. "We also hope to increase avenues of communication to make things as convenient as possible for our community. The questions and the corresponding answers will remain on the site and logged under 'recent posts.'"