Friday, November 12, 2010

School district to hire communications director

Board splits 3-2 on request from superintendent


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County School District board of trustees on Tuesday granted a request by Superintendent Lonnie Barber, above, to hire a full-time communications director. Photo by Willy Cook

Blaine County School District Superintendent Lonnie Barber was given the green light to hire a full-time communications director in a 3-2 vote by the board of trustees at its Tuesday night meeting.

The position is a new one in the district. Board Chair Julie Dahlgren and Trustees Steve Guthrie and Daniel Parke supported the measure while Trustees Paul Bates and Kathryn Graves voted no.

Bates suggested appointing a communications advisory committee instead and Graves said the district was moving too quickly on the issue.

Barber pointed out that hiring a communications director was the top recommendation in a communications audit report by the National School Public Relations Association issued in September. He said the district has known for two years that it needs to do a better job of communicating.

"I suggest that we need to go to work on it," Barber said prior to the vote. "People are expecting us to go to work on it. We're asking you to give us an employee who will actually carry the communications load.

"We want to do a better job of communicating with the public. We're not hiding anything. Our issue here is time.

"We want to communicate in the most effective, transparent, proactive way we can for our public. They deserve it. But we need some help to do it."

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Maintenance building

In other business, the board unanimously approved a preliminary design for a new maintenance building and authorized the Hailey architectural firm Vital Ink to move forward on final design and the approval process with the city of Hailey.

Construction could start as early as April and be finished by January 2012.

The costs of the 12,600-square-foot structure is not yet known, but was estimated at $1.3 million in the 10-year, $59.8 million plant facilities levy approved by Blaine County voters in 2009.

The building would be built on property the district owns on Aviation Drive in southern Hailey immediately north of the Blaine County Public Safety Facility.

The building is intended for food storage and office and work spaces for district construction and maintenance staff.

The school board will still have to give final approval to actually construct the building.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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