District 161, Flossmoor considering joint use of communications manager

Flossmoor District 161 and the Village of Flossmoor would work jointly with a shared communications professional under a plan now being discussed by both governmental units.
 
The idea is for the district and village to enter into a shared services agreement for a newly created position of communications manager. The district’s estimated share of salary and benefits expense would be in the $30,000 to $45,000 range.  
 
The District 161 Board of Education discussed the concept at its special meeting on Nov. 27. Over the past several months the board has brainstormed how the district can improve its communications to various stakeholders. The board’s Community Engagement Committee, formed earlier this year, has identified three priorities including consistent communication, relationship development and district identity and branding.
 
Superintendent Dana Smith said Flossmoor has undertaken a similar assessment of its communication needs. Smith said ensuing discussions between the district and village resulted in the idea of hiring a communications manager to help both government bodies.
 
A job description has been created. Details of the arrangement are still being finalized. The manager would be an employee of the village and be housed at the village hall.  
 
Smith said the desired outcome for District 161 would be for this person to “generate content showing we are a friendly, welcoming and transparent” district.  The timetable is for the position to be filled during the current school year. 
 
“We definitely need someone in this position,” board member Merle Huckabee said.
 
Board President Michelle Hoereth added, “We need to ensure accountability” that the district’s communication needs would be served under this arrangement.
 
Smith said a challenge for the manager would be that “we serve a number of different communities and we have to make sure we are not alienating our other communities.”
 
 Vice President Stephen Paredes, who has chaired the Community Engagement Committee, stated, “Whatever we decide, we’re moving in a positive direction. This is a good framework and it is very exciting.”
 
Smith said the topic will be brought back for board action at a meeting later this month or in January.
 
Meanwhile, the board took action toward evaluating its present communications program. The Community Engagement Committee had recommended an audit of current communication methods.
 
A School Communication (o) Performance Evaluation (SCOPE) was approved for $1,840. The SCOPE survey will provide the district with feedback from faculty and staff members, parents, families and the community about its communications. The survey will evaluate school communications, measure audiences’ reliance on communications, effectiveness and overall image and brand recognition. 

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