Thank you to Mr. Leibowitz for once again providing a clear window. This man deserves a Pulitzer for his coverage of our homegrown Watergate otherwise known as MPS.
This is more of the beyond-the-pale agita-making bullpucky from a rogue administration that thinks our pockets are for their (administrators & school committee/mayor) pillaging. And of course (surprise, surprise) Margaret "supports" this decision!
As for the district website, it is awful, cost the taxpayers hugely (still is, most likely), and was promoted stridently by Dolan, Taymore et al. as an example of their EXEMPLARY communication, eh Chris? Listen to them all whine about Aspen, too. That IT director couldn't rave enough about it when he wanted to spend our dollars on his new toy. It's been a grand success, yes?
The charades and fakery are now in overdrive.
CT: "“Because we were sensitive to costs and it was after the close of the budget, we chose to use one-time moneys that come to the school system from the federal government for telecommunications expenses,” she said." Oh really! And she was "sensitive to costs" about her salary increase, the "pot" of money to approve administrative raises she and the School Committee slithered through during the summer (don't recall her ever explaining how much or to whom), and we can all just see how "sensitive" and COMMUNICATIVE she is about those pesky legal bills she keeps withholding for half a year before slipping them into some bursting pile of manure thinly disguised as committee business. So "sensitive"!
Guilfoil: "“If anyone believes that what they’re reading from a press release has been spun or dodgy, they should call me on it,” he said."
Now THAT's downright humorous. Nothing "spun" or "dodgy" in Smellrose (just read the budget documents if you need to check for sure).
February 15. 2016 10:11AM
Melrose Public Schools tap firm for PR work By Aaron Leibowitz
The Melrose Public Schools signed a one-year contract in November with John Guilfoil Public Relations...
Superintendent of Schools Cyndy Taymore explained her decision to employ the firm at the Jan. 26 meeting of the School Committee.
“[It] was pointed out by the School Committee, not only when they set their own goals last year, but when they evaluated me, that they felt that communication in the district needed to be improved,” Taymore said. “We need to work harder on community engagement. That’s the bottom line.”
The district’s contract with Guilfoil is for $799 per month, or $9,588 for the full year....
“Our job is to push the district to be as open and as communicative as possible,” Guilfoil told the Free Press. “When bad things happen, our job is to communicate as much information about what actually happened in as expedient of a method as possible.”
According to a copy of the contract obtained by the Free Press, Guilfoil’s firm has agreed to write up to eight press releases per month for the district between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, with additional fees for “emergency services.”
Guilfoil will also provide up to four yearly training sessions for district employees on media relations, internal communications, community outreach and social media. Taymore said Guilfoil has already met with Melrose principals to provide communications training.
Additionally, the firm is available for phone consultations during events “that may draw public interest or media coverage.”
“Overall, what we want to do is a better job of educating the community as a whole about our schools, our accomplishments and our plans for the future,” Taymore said. “Mr. Guilfoil will help us to improve those communications while supplementing our staff’s current efforts to engage the community as a whole.”
Recently, Guilfoil has helped the district push out information in unexpected and sensitive situations, including to report the death of a high school student and to release the findings of a civil rights investigation.
“In this age of social media, it is important that we convey accurate information as quickly as possible,” Taymore said. “I think we have been more responsive in the past couple of months.”
The district has also consulted Guilfoil on improving its website, and on how to communicate more effectively via Facebook and Twitter.
School Committee Chair Margaret Driscoll supported the decision, suggesting it would take some of the burden off middle management and support staff.
“I feel that, if we can find a way to have somebody help us with [communications] — not just in the training but in the doing — then we’re allowing our management people to really focus on what we ultimately want, which is support of students.”
Committee member Carrie Kourkoumelis took a dissenting view, challenging a statement by Taymore that educators are not “trained in the art of communication.”
“In my experience, teachers, educators are indeed supposed to be trained in the art of communication,” Kourkoumelis said. “I would have hoped that our administrative team could have managed the communications of both the happy celebrations and the more troublesome and tragic information.”
Guilfoil said that, because his clients and his own firm are relatively small, his is “not your typical PR firm.”
“If anyone believes that what they’re reading from a press release has been spun or dodgy, they should call me on it,” he said.
As for the cost, Taymore said she conferred with counterparts in other districts who use PR firms that charge up to $300 per hour, and Guilfoil’s rates seemed reasonable in comparison.
She also explained how the $799 per month was worked into the budget.
“Because we were sensitive to costs and it was after the close of the budget, we chose to use one-time moneys that come to the school system from the federal government for telecommunications expenses,” she said.
These funds are also known as E-Rate, which is a program overseen by the Federal Communications Commission.
“I had [Director of Finance Jay Picone] check with the E-Rate people,” Taymore said, “and they have verified that it is perfectly legitimate to use the funds for this purpose.”
For more information on John Guilfoil Public Relations, visit jgpr.net.
Taymore: "one-time moneys"
What a gal!
"Not trained in the art of communication": Understatement of the year!
Sure, taxpayers are the bottomless source for their crackpot payola schemes designed only to make them look good in the eyes of the naive parents and greedy/dishonest realtors and buy them votes. $10,000 for a PR firm, $10,000 for Rob's annual payola to the Ed Foundation, "mini-grants" all over the place for things that should have been covered in the budget or were never worthy expenses, $48,000 for their administrative raise "pot" of gold last summer (and every summer, when they cynically and accurately calculate that few will be watching their actions), bonds for "technology", bonds for textbooks, something like $6.6 million for science classrooms, something like $5.3 million for the cavernous "Learning commons" boondoggle, $50k for science kits, $100k for more science kits (after they discovered they didn't order enough), $5000 to replace the "missing" science kits at one elementary school (few of which are even being used because they aren't a real science curriculum and never were), administrative travel and high-end hotel expenses for conferences that are really just taxpayer-funded junkets, technology purchases that are dubious at best and out-and-out grossly wasteful at worst (like SmartTables for 4 year olds at the ECC), bigger and bigger salaries for administrators, more and more of veteran experienced teaching staff being forced out (they are the ones who know what actual teaching is and buck the harassment of those "evaluating" them) so that cheaper and less qualified rookies can be brought in, and this is all before the legal bills, settlements, and we won't even start with the extortionist tiered water/sewer bills or schemes to drive up real estate assessments (but never provide lower assessments let alone rebates during the economic down times, naturally). They presume (mostly accurately) that few of remember or care about the bigger picture while that they work energetically to focus our attention on whatever it is they and their crack team of PR spindoctors put out there for the gullible Bridge types to chew on and deflect away from the "overarching" schemes. It may be legal, but it's dirty as all getout, no matter how it's spun. Sure, bad things happen in lots of places, but not everyplace is as gullible and passive as this burg has become (maybe always was). Basically we're easy pickings for those who are quite obviously taking full advantage.
Oh but these are "dire" financial times doncha know, and those awful people who campaigned and voted against Rob's override need to pay for what they are now costing the city.
Hiring a PR Firm instead of dealing with the district problems and egregious violations of laws is unacceptable on so many counts. Shame on the School Committee for sitting idly while our tax dollars are abused in this way. They should be forced to resign!