Friday, February 18, 2011

School board to reconsider PR post

Trustees meet Wednesday to rehash issue


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Heather Crocker Paul Bates

The Blaine County School District board of trustees has scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday, Feb. 23, to rehash the issue of whether the district should hire a full-time communications director.

The long-debated issue bogged down at the school board's regular meeting on Feb. 8 when the board tabled a decision to give the job to Heather Crocker, executive director of the Blaine County Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that often provides support for school district activities.

Crocker was selected for the position by a district hiring committee from among 22 applicants. Hiring a communications director was approved by the school board in November at the request of district Superintendent Lonnie Barber.

Crocker declined Wednesday to comment on the issue.

Barber and board Chair Julie Dahlgren could not be reached for comment by press deadline Thursday.

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Dahlgren said at the Feb. 8 board meeting that the decision was being postponed because of significant public comment. The issue has been controversial since the idea of hiring a full-time communications expert was introduced last summer. Approval in November was only by a 3-2 board vote, with Trustees Paul Bates and Kathryn Graves voting against.

Bates said Thursday that regardless of his vote in November, he still has an "open mind" on the issue.

Regarding the Feb. 23 meeting, Bates said, "I believe the intention is to discuss the communication director in light of comments received from the public.

"I think that we need to do something about communications. Whether we need a specific person, or whether we do something else to direct communications in the district—that remains to be seen. I think that a lot of the things that are in the job description are now being done by present staff."

The meeting, which is open to the public, is set to start at noon at the district office at 118 W. Bullion St. in Hailey. According to the agenda, Barber will also give an update on pending state legislation that could affect the school district.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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