DeKalb County Schools | Should school budgets be spent on PR?

Schoolhouse

Should limited school budgets be spent on outside public relations firms? Image from Flickr.

This morning in DeKalb County Georgia, DeKalb County Schools were taking a lot of heat – and raising questions about proper use of school funds. The DeKalb County Schools are cutting $115 million out of their yearly budget. At the same time, the school district seems to have money to lend – at least, to a PR firm they are hoping to hire. What is the story with DeKalb County Schools?

DeKalb County Schools cutting budgets

Next Monday, DeKalb County Schools are posed to take on the very-difficult issue of budget cuts. Like most school districts around the country, DeKalb County Schools are faced with shrinking budgets and rising costs. There has been discussion of potentially closing schools, though the district has instead elected to cut 430 jobs while delaying school closures.

PR firm to be hired by DeKalb County Schools?

Given the outrage of parents over DeKalb County Schools’ budget cuts, and pending lawsuits, it is no surprise that the district feels it has a public relations problem. To handle this, DeKalb country schools is seeking approval from the board to hire a public-relations firm. DeKalb County Schools’ website says that the PR firm would be asked to help with “crisis response management” and “creation of good will.”

The cost to DeKalb County Schools

The possibility that DeKalb County Schools will be hiring an outside public-relations firm is leaving many wondering about use of school funds. The board of directors is hoping to cap the DeKalb County Schools’ cost at $25,000 – less than the salary of one teacher for one year. There would be no line-item cuts to pay for the PR firm — instead, the money will come out of existing communications budgets.

Should DeKalb County Schools hire a PR firm?

The real question is – should DeKalb County Schools be spending the $25,000 to hire a public relations firm? This is a difficult question to answer. There is a five-person communications team already employed by the school district. However, the district recognizes that it has a public relations problem. School districts are funded by taxes, and they rely on the community around them to support their educational goals. Without good public relations, a school district can find itself floundering. At the same time, when budgets are being tightened and teachers are losing their jobs, should a school district really be spending extra money? There are already five internal employees with the job that is being hired out. What do you think?

Sources:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
11 alive.com

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