For many years, up until a couple of years ago, Maggie Skau was the PR person for the New Rochelle Board of Education.
From my perspective, her job appeared to be mostly to work to discredit me and Talk of the Sound. Maybe that's why she was fired -- she failed, spectacularly!
She was so good at assiduously avoiding me in person or answering my questions that to this day, I have no idea what she looks like; if she was standing in front of me I would not know her.
Imagine my surprise to get the following email during the heat of my school board campaign in May.
Subject: New York Taxpayers Foot the Bill for School Public Relations Services
Date: May 10, 2013 2:01:15 PM EDT
Syntax Communication is currently a cause for controversy on Long Island as well as Blind Brook and Briarcliff.
New Rochelle Superintendent of Schools Richard Organisciak hired the Long Island School PR agency Syntax Communication in 2011 to replace a civil service employee who retired.
Was hiring an agency and replacing an employee cost effective?
Where are the costs for both the agency contract and PR employee shown in the School District budget?
Did the District compare costs for contracting for communication services from BOCES in Westchester?
These are all good questions but the person who is filling her old role is just as unlikely as she was to answer those questions and incoming board of education President David Lacher has made it clear that he believes he was elected by his fellow board members to belligerently repel questions like this, especially coming from someone like me.
I tried to follow up with Ms. Skau to no avail so I print the email here in the hope that some readers might care to pursue this matter with the BoE.
I read the article she provided and cannot say I disagree. It got me wondering how much we pay for the privilege of being graded with Paul Costiglio's presence?
I like this quote:
Dozens of districts have 2013-14 school budgets on the table that include public relations services that will cost $30,000 or more annually, and that doesn't sit well with some taxpayers.
"$30-$40K yearly might not sound like much, but that money could instead be used to fund academic programs or hire part-time teaching staff," said Glen Cove resident Dave Arslanian, who lives in a district that retained Syntax Communication as part of its 2013-14 budget. "School boards are approving the hiring of firms to print up newsletters and calendars, while teaching positions are being eliminated. I don't see how that makes sense."
As Talk of the Sound readers know, the New Rochelle Board of Education could dramatically improve public relations for the district without employing anyone to "do PR". Instead, they could experiment with ending the practice of employing drug dealers, drunk drivers, violent criminals, sex offenders and murderers. Maybe one of Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak's goals for what many hope will be his last 12 months in New Rochelle would be to make it through just a single school year without the arrest of a district employees. Now that would certainly be an improvement.
I am betting Organisciak cannot do it! Any takers?