What does a PR director do at a school system? Why would the tax payers need to hire such a person? Yet Lakota, the school system in my community is hiring a new one with a pay range between $69,000 and $94,000 per year! That’s a very good salary, but what is the reason for this position? What necessitates the hiring of such a person if the goal of the education institution is to simply teach our children? (Below you can see Laura Kursman in action doing what PR directors do.)
As anyone who reads here often knows, I have done a lot of PR work. I have done hundreds and hundreds of interviews with all levels of the media, print, radio, and television. I’ve designed and coded websites along with all the content. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of promotional material which is what a public relations employee does. With that qualifier there isn’t any reason that I see why a school system would need to hire a PR director. Even at a large school like Lakota which has 22 buildings and approximately 2000 employees and 18,000 students, there simply isn’t enough work with the media around town to justify 8 hours of work per day 5 days a week. The work of a PR person might be required to type up press releases, and assuming Lakota had news to report every day, a press release only takes an hour or so to prepare. If it takes longer than that, the PR person doesn’t know what they are doing. Statements to the press take 15 to 20 minutes. I’ve given such statements to the entire media of Cincinnati and did so between my morning meetings and lunch without there being any difficulty. If you are the type of person who is good at that kind of thing, which most PR people are, that kind of work is a breeze.
With those qualifiers I do not see why Lakota needs a PR person as a fulltime staff member. It just doesn’t make any sense. At best there is about 15 hours of work per week for such an employee to perform and paying $69,000 to $90,000 per year for 15 hours of work per week is not a good use of money. These PR tasks should be handled by the school superintendent for general issues, and for individual sports stories and extracurricular activity work of specific students the coaches and teachers should easily be able to handle the job. No school should hire a PR director. There is only one reason I can think of that a school would need to hire this type of person, and that is to pass school levies.
To prove my point lets examine why Lakota is hiring a new PR director. Laura Kursman mysteriously has been on a leave of absence from the role she has performed for Lakota since 2008. In September of 2011 she has been off her PR director job and Ashire Communications president Elliot Grossman has been hired as a PR consultant since that time. So where has Laura been, and why did Lakota pay her $90,000 to go away making her officially off the payroll effective Tuesday, (Today)?
Well, Superintendent Mantia and School Board President Joan Powell have been tight-lipped about the whole deal involving Laura Kursman and have not been very forthcoming regarding the details of Laura’s disappearance. It’s entirely possible that Laura was being blamed for the failed levies since she was the PR director, whatever the issue was, Lakota is in an awful hurry to part with her. We can only speculate on this issue because Lakota has not been open in their reasoning, and the cloak and dagger tactics with the public smells bad.
Well, newsflash Lakota administration, the Lakota levies have been failing because the tax requests are founded on ignorance and a lack of financial understanding. And in addition to that, I have been handling the PR obligations of the No Lakota Levy group which has opposed the Lakota levy attempts and I have done by Lakota Math approximately $500,000 worth of PR work to fight the levies and I’ve done it out of the kindness of my heart because I believe the Lakota Pro Tax position is a danger to my community and is acting in a parasitic way to continued economic growth. And I will continue to perform that task in the future. Pushing Laura out the door with $90,000 of our money in her pocket so Lakota can hire someone the administration likes better to advance future levy campaign battles doesn’t seem very responsible to me.
I thought Laura did a pretty good job. She handled the child molester Ryan Fahrenkemp the best she could. And Lakota managed to keep the lid on a sex scandal involving a high school teacher, a high-profile principal and the parent of a special needs child without the story going ballistic because Laura and her crew of spin control technicians diffused the issue effectively. All those issues took place in 2011. And the school levies are purely a lack of management driven by excessive labor union expectations. It’s not Laura’s fault that the superintendents and school board members are all on the same side as the labor unions. I mean you can’t polish a pile of shit into a diamond, yet Laura did try. But that is what the school district thinks they are going to do by hiring a new PR director, is find an employee who can make shit look like a diamond and spin the truth around on itself so that Lakota residents will pass future levies and continue paying the contract expectations of the labor union.
Imagine how much money Lakota would have if they just played the game straight. If they weren’t worried about manipulating the community with a PR director they could save that salary. And they wouldn’t have had to pay off the previous employee with a $90,000 fee. Lakota also spent almost 50K in fees just looking for a new superintendent who was less than 70 miles away who they ended up paying almost a quarter million dollars for in total compensation. What does the superintendent do all day if she’s not balancing the budget and handling PR obligations? Those two financial mistakes happened within 4 months of each other, and those are the situations we know about. Can you imagine how much waste is going on that we don’t know about? During the last levy campaign the pro Lakota levy group spent $12,000 on consultants to advise them how to pass the school levy. That’s just the way these people think, they spend a lot of money hiring people to do the jobs they should be doing and often accomplish nothing in the process.
That is why the Lakota School District is trying to hire another PR director so that they can attempt to hide stories like what was described above with “spin” so that the district can maintain a successful public image while they blow hundreds of thousands of dollars on sheer stupidity, like paying off Kursman $90,000 by Dec. 16. Lakota is paying Kursman in the form of three checks: $44,000, with no withholdings for taxes or any other deductions; $44,000, less deductions for applicable federal, state and local income and employment taxes; and $2,000 made payable to Freking & Betz LLC. The $90,000 came from the general fund. Isn’t that nice. Oh, by the way, Freking & Betz LLC is a personal injury law firm. (Somebody owes the public an explanation.)
That’s a lot of money taken from a lot of properties around West Chester and Liberty Twp. And the administrators who pay those bills seem to have no concept on what the value of a dollar is which is why they always ask for more in the form of taxes. To them money is like popcorn. All you do when you run out is pop more. And when a school district runs out of money that they’ve consumed like drunken sailors, they simply ask for another tax levy, and hire a PR director to make shit look like a diamond because with all the consumption of money Lakota does, that is mostly what comes out.
I thought of Lakota this morning while I was walking our dogs and ironically that is where the economic metaphor came from. My wife was complaining that we were out of dog food again, and she was right. We had just bought a big bag of it two weeks ago and now it was gone. Where did it go? As I watched my dogs go to the bathroom in the gentle December rain and specifically shit all over my yard I thought of Lakota. The dogs do three things, they eat, they sleep and they use the restroom. Dogs are basically defecation factories. Sure dogs keep us company to some extent and occupy our time. They bark and make noise every now and then, but their primary function is to eat and defecate. And so does the school system. They eat tax dollars, take credit for the growth of our kids but truly only provide some basic care service. Most of what schools take in ends up as waste just like a dog.
As I stood in the rain and looked at the nice little prize that one of my fattest dogs left in my yard steaming in the cool air fresh from my dog’s rectum, I thought of Laura Kursman and her $90,000 parting gift. Aren’t they both the same thing? The dog ate a lot of food, used some of the energy to bark and look out the window. Laura Kursman took in a lot of money and barked a little bit and looked out the window, what else does a PR director do, nothing productive. Once the food moved through my dog’s body that food he ate a few days ago and didn’t turn into fat or energy ended up in my yard. And Laura once she had taken in all she could and was given more food to just spew it back out in the form of waste, with nothing of any value given back from the investment of money spent.
To read more of this interesting story catch the article by Steven Mathews here: Sounds like there’s a lot more to this story that will be forthcoming.
SEE THE WORLD THROUGH HOFFMAN LENSES: