School: Fire Teachers, Add PR Exec - Texas Scorecard

In the shadow of a School Board meeting to deliberate school closures and teacher layoffs, Austin ISD is also looking to hire a top administrator to oversee “Public Relations and Multicultural Outreach.”

As Fox Austin reports, the Austin ISD School Board is set to meet the evening of 3/28 to discuss how to administer necessary budget cuts.

On the other hand, while the School Board will be putting hundreds of teachers and some schools on the chopping block this evening, Austin ISD will continue it’s search for a “Public Relations and Multicultural Outreach” specialist.

Originally posted March 11, 2011, as late as Monday afternoon the position was still active on the Austin Independent School District’s website. The job will be in central administration operating out of the superintendent’s office. The compensation is listed in the $92,000 – $112,000 range.

A smattering of the responsibilities include:
– Oversees and supports a multicultural outreach program that cultivates an open and positive relationship with community, ethnic, civic and cultural groups across the Austin ISD
– Establishes and oversees a system to regularly collect and publish stories to showcase programs, partnerships, schools, student and staff achievements through diverse and appropriate media outlets
– Supports the establishment of the Carruth Administration Building Welcome Center
– Assigns duties to staff, monitors work and provides feedback to assure quality accomplishment of objectives and conducts formative and summative assessments for each direct report
– Oversees and directs the budget for the Office of Public Relations and Multicultural Outreach

The position was posted not even 3 weeks ago — long after the public angst over budget cuts had arisen.

So, the taxpayer is to believe that after Austin ISD had declared that it would have to make significant cuts to it’s budget likely to include cutting teachers in classrooms — and, in some cases, entire schools — it’s acceptable to continue the hunt for a PR professional.

As far as can be seen, this position has absolutely no impact on the instructional education of Austin ISD students.

Additionally, the position’s responsibilities mention a “staff” and a separate “budget” for the office of Public Relations and Multicultural Outreach. These beg the questions: how many additional staff members, and how much is the budget for the operation? Certainly these dollars don’t pay off in the classroom.

Currently Austin ISD spends less than half of every dollar inside the classroom, maintains close to one teacher for every non-teacher, and pays it’s superintendent $275,000 a year.

A free public relations tip for Austin ISD: Looking to bring on a highly paid school administrator who’s job has nothing to do with educating young Texans in the midst of a budgeting process where you are planning on severely cutting inside the classroom is a bad idea.

Also posted at ProtectTheClassroom.com

Andrew Kerr is the Executive Director of Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility

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