Putting a spin on the schoolboard
Due to budget shortfalls, the CBE has implemented a new fee model that has parents paying separately for lunch hour supervision and busing. While the CBE’s recently passed $1.1 billion budget is slightly higher than in previous years, meaning that there will be no teaching jobs cut for 2012/2013, the board is dipping into reserves to fill a $16 million shortage.
The positions have base yearly salaries ranging between $105,000 and $125,000.
The communications managers will deal with tasks such as crisis management and reputation improvement for the board.
The spending, in light of the deficit and raised fees for parents, has enraged a number of parents and tax-payers.
Scott Hennig, the provincial director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, spoke to the Herald with his thoughts. “If the CBE didn’t spend so much money on fighting with parents, they probably wouldn’t need so many communications staff.”
While on the surface, Hennig’s comments might seem fair, it’s really not a black and white issue. Public relations is important – it doesn’t matter what an organization has really done, if the public thinks that they’ve done something different.
Much of the CBE’s perceived shortcomings come from a small budget – which is really the fault of our government’s priorities, not the school system. By changing public perception to highlight the great things a school is accomplishing, rather than allowing the media to harp on negative news, good PR can change the way people feel about an issue.
In a 2004 study on climate change, researcher Anthony Leiserowitz asked people who had either seen or not seen the film The Day After Tomorrow whether or not they thought of climate change as a threat.
Forty-nine per cent more people viewed climate change as an impending threat after seeing the film.
Communications budgets have been rising exponentially over the last 10 years according to the Public Relations Society of America, with a projected growth of 5.6 per cent expected this year, but the CBE has actually slashed the budget to their communications department by $100,000 from 2011, according to director of communications Richard Peter.
As for the high salaries of the two new media relations managers, it costs money to make money – some of the most successful non-profits have high administrative or communications costs, such as organizations like World Vision or World Wildlife Fund. To make a job offer enticing to talented potential employees, it needs to be competitive. Hopefully, they’ll soon be doing their job and we’ll have forgotten about this story to move on to what we should really be hearing about – the awesome things happening in Calgary schools.