Friday, November 30, 2007

If you put lipstick on a pig, is it still a pig?

In this era of budget crunches, school budgets, pork, and everything else, priorities needs to be set. $110,000 for this is not what I'd call a higher priority. I shouldn't expect anything less though from the city that is also the state capitol of Michigan.

From the Lansing State Journal

Lansing schools Superintendent T.C. Wallace Jr. is fond of mentioning how more than 15,000 students choose to attend the city's schools each year, rather than enroll elsewhere through schools of choice.
Now, in an effort to improve the district's public image, Lansing officials will hire a cabinet-level communications director.

Stephen Serkaian, the former spokesman for then-Lansing Mayor David Hollister, will become the district's full-time communications director Jan. 1. Serkaian currently is contracted as a part-time spokesman through the public relations firm he owns, Serkaian Communications.

Wallace said hiring Serkaian full time will not cost the district more money. The $43,000 the district was paying Serkaian Communications will be combined with $70,000 from a vacant administrative position that will be rolled into his responsibilities. That $113,000 will cover benefits and salary, which will be prorated for the rest of the 2007-08 school year.

$113,000 for a PR guy? That's a principal's salary. I don't believe any school district in Livingston County has a 100K PR guy. Usually, our PR is through our test scores and sports teams. In fact, I'm not aware of any school in the state until now with that.

The two questions are this. What can Lansing Schools sell that East Lansing, Okemos, Haslett, Holt, Waverly, DeWitt, Mason, and Grand Ledge can not sell? Does Lansing need $100K+ to sell its strengths?

Everyone talks about educational funding and the chattering classes nearly wet their pants when there is talk about cuts to education or no increases in educational funding. The sky is falling. We're doooooooooooooomed if we don't pass those millages and headlee overrides. However, when the "Education" funding is going to PR and not real education, these things need a second look.

It's easy to complain about pork in Alaska like the bridge to nowhere. However, stopping pork barrell projects need to start at home. $110K to a PR guy is just another case of Jurassic Pork.

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