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City school talk: Public relations and resources

Manchester's Board of School Committee has approved the hiring of a full-time communications director for the school district. This might surprise parents who read our Tuesday story reporting that school district officials estimate that 30 high school and roughly 100 middle school classes will exceed 30 students this year. What are the priorities here?

New Superintendent Debra Livingston took the job at an annual salary of $160,000. The pay range went up to more than $190,000. According to Mayor Ted Gatsas, Livingston took the pay she did with the understanding that the difference would go to assist her in the administration offices. The communications director position is to be financed with this earmarked administration money, Gatsas says.This year's massive audit of the school district concluded that the district should hire a "Coordinator of District Communications" to improve both internal and external communications. Auditors believed that better district communications would increase parental involvement.

Having better communications certainly benefits the district and parents. But as always, this is a question of priorities. A full-time director, with benefits, is hardly the best use of scarce resources this year. Surely parents would be more relieved — and better served — if the district hired one more teacher.


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