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West Genesee superintendent uses Twitter to break snow day news

Brown uses Twitter to keep in touch with the community — he says he’s a more open and accessible superintendent because of his use of social media.

Brown uses Twitter to keep in touch with the community — he says he’s a more open and accessible superintendent because of his use of social media. Photo by Amanda Seef.

— Don’t wait for the TV scroll, or for the “Ws” in the radio’s snow day announcements.

Just check Twitter if you want to know if West Genesee schools are closed.

“I always tell the kids, the first place I’ll post is Twitter,” said Chris Brown, Superintendent of West Genesee Schools, or @cbrownwgcsd, on Twitter.

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@cbrownwgcsd

Twitter was the first place the news broke of a snow day on Friday, Jan. 13. A heavy band of snow came in late in the game — the buses had hit the road and were looking to pick up students. Brown said he tried calling the television stations, but the lines were busy. He put the message on Twitter at 6:30 a.m.:

“Sorry for the very late notice but we are forced to close today due to rapidly changing weather. West Genesee is Closed today.”

He couldn’t get through to the news stations, and he knew students and parents were preparing to get to school. Sixteen retweets later, the word had spread as far as News Channel 9, who picked up the school’s cancellation from Twitter.

“That tells you the power,” Brown said. “It took about 30 seconds to broadcast that message out to a couple thousand people.”

It took news media 15 minutes to get the school’s cancellation on TV, Brown said.

“When you’re talking about buses running, that’s an eternity,” he said.

Brown has been on the social media platform since 2009, looking to study the effectiveness of social media on school districts.

“I called it the Twitter experiment,” he said. “It was slow, we had a few followers. With the first snow day that I announced on Twitter, it exponentially increased.”

Brown has since been recognized by national publications for his use of Twitter in and out of the classroom.

He says he has been using Twitter and his blog, superintendentwgcsd.blogspot.com, to create an open dialogue with students and parents.

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