TWINSBURG — The Twinsburg City School district recently hired a Columbus marketing firm to assist with district communications, but in a split decision.
The school board voted 3-2 on Sept. 22 to approve a contact with Allerton Hill Communications, which would run from Sept. 23 to Oct. 1, 2022. The cost for “comprehensive communications consulting” would cost $5,000 per month, and would be a general fund expense.
Board President Tina Davis, Board Vice President Mark Curtis and Board member Rob Felber voted for the contract, and Board members Adrienne Gordon and Angela DeFabio voted against.
Gordon questioned why another marketing consultant was needed, and if a more inexpensive solution could have been considered.
“I know the scope work is a little bit different on this than what our current marketing consultant is doing,” Gordon said. “However, some of this work feels to me to be fairly junior. An upcoming recent grad that lives in the district might be able to do some social media content management. We probably should be doing that and bringing the skills in-house at the same point.”
Gordon added that several residents have expressed concern about the pay rates for several substitute positions with the schools.
“I think the appetite for two marketing consultants, when we are struggling to staff custodial services and maintenance subs, I think the appetite’s left.”
Curtis said the school board has had “a lot of discussion around this.”
He said Superintendent Kathryn Powers “has been very clear to us that over the past year and a half, and her efforts to keep up with communications and send pdfs and things like that was cumbersome for our parents,” Curtis said. “She even admitted it’s not her area of expertise. I know that there’s been a lot of deliberation about this piece, and I was under the under the impression after the work session that we gave her clear, unanimous direction to move forward with this. I believe that we did discuss the fact that we had another consultant that, as Mrs. Gordon has pointed out, the roles don’t necessarily align.”
Curtis said he knew about the concerns regarding staffing, but added it wasn’t confined to Twinsburg.
“It is a nationwide issue,” he said. “It’s pretty pervasive in Ohio. There’s not a district in the state of Ohio that’s not experiencing the same issues. I’m of the opinion that one has nothing to do with the other.”
Davis said the contract and work includes a lot more than “just the social media piece.” She added social media “can be quite explosive.”
Felber said that the district needs “to communicate in an increasingly difficult environment.”
“There was a lot of communications done around the legacy project pre-COVID,” Felber said. “Then post surveys realized that even with all those meetings and all that communication, our message still didn’t
hit home. This is about a mature firm with a mature voice. This is not about someone playing on TikTok or Facebook. This is about supporting the office of the superintendent and the entire board with a mature, educated strategy-based communications firm.”
The next school board meeting is Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Twinsburg Government Center.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at [email protected]