by Capt Ed Davidson, Chairman, Fl Keys Citizens Coalition, former SclBd Dist 3…….
Draft notes of School Board mtg Public Comment Tue 28 Feb by Capt Ed
Like many other expensive new positions added to the School District payroll by the Porter Administration (more than a few in the $100,000 range), the long-sought-after Spin Doctor is going to be paid a lot of tax payers’ money to perform duties that were formerly part of Mark Porter’s original job description, but have now become part of his Imperial Superintendency staffing plan – which has expanded by about 20 positions in recent years even though the number of students has remained roughly the same.
And once again, as I protested so often when I had a seat on this Board, Mr Porter has deliberately concealed from the public exactly how much this new position will cost (including 26% benefits) by not linking that – or the job description — or the employment contract – to the agenda, thus preventing the public from discussing those costs and issues with their School Board members prior to this meeting. [note: I personally verified after the meeting that even school board members were not informed of the actual Communications Director salary before they voted, and before that new employee started work the next morning Wed, 1 Mar) — a clear violation of Board policy !]
This new position claims to provide for quicker responses to semi-emergency events, but in fact this will often not be possible because most school urgencies involve legal ramifications involving under-age students, all statements involving which should require mandatory review and pre-approval by School Board attorneys.
Trying to have a Spin Doctor rush to “outdraw” community, parent, and student social media and “shoot from the lip” will inevitably lead to embarrassing mis-statements and actually undermine rather than enhance the Porter Administration’s already deservedly marginal media credibility.
Many provisions in the current job description would imply that this employee is speaking on behalf of elected School Board members, when in fact their allegiance is to the Superintendent, not the Board. This will generate inescapable conflicts of interest whenever Administration ethical lapses and mis-steps are being officially explained away, as has so often occurred in the past – such as the many facets of the Acevedo scandal felonies, the 71 illegal HOB construction change order approvals, multiple other change order irregularities and overcharges in the $100,000s, and the more recent 9-month Porter-Drake-Henriquez cover-up of the felony grand theft of $21,731 in HOB student day care funds.
It should be noted that every text and tweet by the new Communications Coordinator, and every posting to Facebook, U-Tube, Pintrest, Flickr, Vimeo, and other social media (which is a major activity she will be paid to pursue full-time) is a public record under Fla law, and must be 100% recorded and archived in a way that is readily accessible for public and media copying and review for factuality and truthfulness – this absolutely must occur from day one and word one, but there has been no mention at all in these proceedings that this legal necessity has been provided for.
[note – no Board member or administrator was able to give any assurance that this statutory public records preservation capacity exists, which means the District is already in deliberate violation of the sunshine laws from day one!]
Because of the grandiose over-reach of the original “Spin Doctor” job description, there is great lingering liability for the School Board lurking in the job description statement that “…Duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time without notice…” This is an open invitation to major mission creep, and it should instead be specifically required that any modification of duties and scope should come back to the Board for public discussion and specific approval in the sunshine.
Lest it be forgotten, Superintendent Porter’s original proposal included “…establishing and coordinating a public relations campaign … as an education leader in the state/nation to enhance the stature, visibility, and presence of School District and its team members…” and also “…coordinating, directing, and participating in meetings with legislative, agency, and Non-Governmental Organization officials at the state, local, and national level…”
It doesn’t get more grandiose than that kind of expenditure of taxpayer’s hard-earned money not for enhancing the education of students and compensating dedicated teachers and principals, but for the chief practical effect of ego-inflating the Superintendent’s resume for his next job search. Of course, you could save the $100,000 salary and benefits and still improve your media profile by simply demanding the Administration screw-up less, and cover-up less, and be far more accountable when they do – and that’s entirely free, and wouldn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.