Board Renews Contract With Public Relations Firm

Success Communications will be paid $2,500 a month beginning July 1. Officials defend decision as "necessary."

Success Communications will continue to serve as the school district’s public relations firm.

The approved a $30,000 expenditure Thursday to renew the firm’s contract with the district. Success will be paid $2,500 a month from July of this year to June of 2013.

“We think this is essential. This has been an issue of concern for many years. We need to improve our communication,” said board trustee Laura Stinziano. “We are moving this district forward. Having successful communication, both internally and externally, is essential to our district, especially in the day and age of technology we are living in.”

Success has created accounts for the district on YouTube, Google+, and Twitter. It also created a Facebook page and helped redesign the district’s Web site since it was hired in March.

Residents have been critical of the hiring, but district officials have said that the move was a necessary one. Board trustee Robert Ceberio said Thursday that the district has hired communications professionals before.

“The superintendent can’t do it alone and we support him,” Stinziano said.

Superintendent Ray Gonzalez issued a statement Thursday night regarding the decision. He called news of the ongoing relationship “extremely good news.”

Gonzalez wants to ensure two-way engagement between the district and residents.

“Having benefitted from the input of various experts on the latest communication technologies and strategies, we've recently made dramatic strides by upgrading the district's Web site and establishing a robust presence on such key social networking utilities as Facebook and Twitter,” Gonzalez said. “Now, looking ahead to the 2012-2013 school year, I'm enthusiastic about even further enhancing our capacity to share relevant information."

Improving communication “among all members” of the district for the 2012-2013 school year.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Jacob June 29, 2012 at 11:00 AM
I moved to Wayne 5 years ago for the school system. The school administration in my old town had a full time communication officer and we were always informed. I see this position as necessary. Any successful business has a strong communication group.
Sinclair June 29, 2012 at 11:04 AM
I felt the same way when I first heard that the Super hired a PR firm a while back. But I have to say, with 2 kids in the school system, I have seen a great improvement in communications. I actually can understand why we need this and am glad the BOE is prudent to hire a service for a smaller fee that hiring an employee. I understand that previous Supers/BOEs hired people on staff. Much prefer this way.
JJZ1990 June 29, 2012 at 11:08 AM
I was at the meeting last night as my friend was getting an award and this issue was explained by Dr. Gonzalez. I think Dr. Gonzalez is doing a really goo job and if he needs a communication resource to be successful, I have no issue with it. I have seen many positive changes and look forward to seeing more.
JJHanley June 29, 2012 at 11:11 AM
We finally have a website that is a good resource and I really like the parent portal. As a parent with kids in the system for the last 8 years I see a DRASTIC improvement. Good job.
Pat Kruiser June 29, 2012 at 11:15 AM
The school system is FINALLY headed in the right direction as I have seen much improvement in the last 6 months. We finally have a great principal in Packanack and I count on the communications. I hope to see more communications from the superintendent.
Pennings June 29, 2012 at 11:20 AM
@JJHanley - I agree. I hope this continues as I finally feel like I know what is going on in the school system. The Superintendent has been here for less than a year and I think he is doing a good job (he actually visited my daughter's class). I would like to see and hear more of what is going on in our schools.
Nose Wayne June 29, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Jacob, When was the last time you heard ANYTHING from our PR firm ? JJ, What DRASTIC inprovements have you seen ? Think i'm missing something here. Hey Pad, any comment?
Hinks June 29, 2012 at 11:25 AM
The nay sayers are just people with an agenda or grudge. All good has been happening since stability was brought back to Wayne schools (after 4 previous years with no permanent superintendent). I agree, November will be here soon and the majority will speak. The silent majority will be heard louder that a few blog quacks.
Wayne1978 June 29, 2012 at 11:31 AM
You obviously do not have kids in the system. Parent portal is huge...new website is great...I keep up on the twitter feed as well. You should never "hear from the PR firm"...they should be assisting in communications and invisible to us. You should "hear" from Dr. Gonzalez. I use a communication firm for my business and could not be successful with out this service.
Wayne1978 June 29, 2012 at 11:37 AM
If we want to be a great school district and increase our property value, I would think we should look to emulate the best schools in the state. I work next to Millburn (ranked #1 school in state) and it has a full-time Communications Coordinator on staff.
Justice June 29, 2012 at 11:41 AM
What a waste of money...Furthermore, was this contract ever put up for bid? November can't come soon enough.
Pizzalady June 29, 2012 at 11:44 AM
This is just a necessary evil of doing business. And yes, running a district should be more aligned to running a successful business. I agree, I have seem more improvement in the last few months than I have seen in the last 5 years. I watched the meeting last night and the presentation from Ramapo College to run our Outdoor environmental education program was fantastic. WHERE IS THE ARTICLE ON THIS? This is what is important; this is enhancing our children's learning experience.
Jeffers June 29, 2012 at 11:46 AM
The Ramapo presentation was great. Looking forward to seeing the new program.
Peterson June 29, 2012 at 11:51 AM
I would hope we can see more videos like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyacHAzxfXA&feature=plcp Really like the new website. Nice to move out from under the old 1990s site.
Billy June 29, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Good video. I didn't realize this was on the website. Good website too.
Daniel Hubbard (Editor) June 29, 2012 at 12:26 PM
That article is being written this morning. It wasn't something I could just throw together quickly. Need to take my time on that one. Plus, the burglar posted bail, which is a big deal. I'm one person and can't do everything as fast as I'd like to sometimes.
Cathy Kazan June 29, 2012 at 01:52 PM
I have to agree that communication is important and that the new website is certainly a step forward. However, $30,000 for a PR Firm when we are cutting educational programs for our students is a luxury we can't afford. We have administrators that cover every area of our school system. Why can't each one of them handle an occasional press release for their area? How hard is it to come up with a couple paragraphs on a new program or initiative? I've done them for my volunteer organizations and it doesn't take a lot of time. As for the website, we have a person on staff for that. That person can update the Facebook Page and Twitter. While I applaud the enhanced communication, I don't see the need to outsource it. We should be directing every extra dollar toward the education of our students, especially when we just cut a new science program that was implemented in sixth grade last year and is not being continued due to budget cuts.
Al Scala June 29, 2012 at 02:46 PM
The budget pie shows approx. 85% going to salaries and benefits. Within the 15% remaining are both educational and non educational expenses. For example, there is insurance on our bldgs. and facilities, insurance on our buses and vehicles, gasoline, maintenance, utilities cost, etc, all of which are necessary.. Deduct these expenses and that portion going to direct educational resources gets smaller and smaller. I don't see that as being a good thing. When you take an additional $30,000 for a PR firm which I consider a non educational expense, it reduces the pie even further. Faced with a 2% cap, faced with rising costs in all areas of the budget, especially special education and services, I think we have to be prudent in reserving costs for direct educational items, such as books, programs, equipment, etc. The Board has apparently weighed this and feels that the $30,000 expense is worth it! Communications is important. Is outsourcing the answer? It's easy to criticize and I have certainly done my share of that. The educational portion of the pie is a precious resource as it affects are children directly. We need to preserve this as best we can.
Kitcher June 29, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Interesting positon Ms. Kazan, as a few weeks back I believe you were championing the Wayne Adult School. This was a community program that was bleeding money over the years. My understanding is that this year alone, it lost close to $70K - this would cover two+ years of desperately needed communications. The BOE should not be a community resource...it should be focused (as it seems it is) on our children's education and enhancement of our school district (which directly affects our property value). I applaud the BOE for finally ending an era of bad business decisions. Your positions seem inconsistent.
Jennifer June 29, 2012 at 03:39 PM
I am a communications professional and I take exception to your comment "how hard is it to come up with a few paragraphs?" Having a strategic communication platform and marketing to your target audience takes a certain skill level (one which a layman would not have). I appreciate the value the Superintendent has placed on the need for PROPER communications. I believe this initiative will help move our school system forward.
Al Scala June 29, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Jennifer.....Congratulations on being a communications professional. I'm sure it's a rewarding career. Since you are a communications professional maybe you can explain to me how this $30,000 expense gives our children educational value. Please explain how it will help our children understand Science, Math, Social Studies better? I'd really like you to communicate that to me! Now, I won't argue the fact that this PR firm may be improving the dissemination of information to our parents and keeping them apprised of what is going on in school! If that's what the parents want, then so be it! I certainly won't argue that point. It comes down to putting money into education or allocating it somewhere else which will be a benefit, just not to our children. I sincerely await your response. A middle school science curriculum/ program was eliminated this year due to budgetary reasons. I do understand that hard decisions have to be made by the Board that sits differently with each and every one of us. I just find it difficult to cut out a science program, then hire a PR firm. I guess it's a matter of priorities!
Cathy Kazan June 29, 2012 at 05:04 PM
There is nothing inconsistent about my positions "Kitcher". The Wayne Adult School served our school community and our student population with educational programs like SAT prep and Drivers Ed at a reduced rate just to name a few. These programs are not available during the school day. As for your $70K figure, that is incorrect. The program was quoted as losing something in the $50K range over a two year period. If you watched last night's meeting you would have heard Mrs. Hutchison explain that the program was mismanaged. Also, the new director was on her way to getting it back on track when it was cut. I expect that when the new figures emerge it may have already been making it's way back to the black. But the bottom line is that it was a community program that was not intended to make a profit. We can agree to disagree, but my stance remains pro-education.
Al Scala June 29, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Cathy.....Kitcher is a shill. Someone put him or her up to posting this. There is no posting history for this shill. Today was the first.
Chicken Little June 29, 2012 at 08:10 PM
@Facts Glad Kazan announced that she is pro-education. Can we get her a round of applause?
Cathy Kazan June 29, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I put in an OPRA request for the information. Did you? Not going to play this game with "no names".
Al Scala June 29, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Cathy....Kitcher, facts and Jennifer are all shills. All three posted for the first time today. Wouldn't surprise me if all three are the same person, possibly one with a multiple personality. ( LOL).
Cathy Kazan June 29, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Sure looks that way Al. The post from "facts" and my reply have been mysteriously removed. Maybe they realized they need to check their "facts".
Nose Wayne June 30, 2012 at 02:49 PM
ALL, Since they hired this PR Firm, has anyone heard of or NOSE exactly what we are getting for $30,000 ? Would love to hear someone from the Board answer my question.
Al Scala June 30, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Nose....they are very busy setting up shills such as Sinclair, JJZ1990, Pat Kruiser, Jacob, JJHanley, Pennings, Jeffers, Peteren, etal.
Nose Wayne June 30, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Good one Al, Why can't we take some kids that want to major in" Communcations" and instead of paying someone, have the students get credit for doing this ? Sound like a win/win situation. REMEMBER, it's all about the children!!!! (and saving 30 grand)


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