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State School Board OKs $600K budget for public relations

December 11, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah State Board of Education has agreed to budget nearly $600,000 for strategic communications.

The board agreed to budget $596,652.77 in unexpended federal lease funds for an array of strategic communication services, such as public relations counsel and public opinion polls, to complement the efforts of the board’s communication staff, the Deseret News reported .

Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson called the funding important and timely.

“We’ve been kicking this can down the road for several years needing to have some funds to reach out to external sources to help us with marketing and communications,” Dickson told the State School Board late last week. “Districts do it all the time, and we have just not done that. I think we continue to pay the price for that.”

But some board members weren’t exactly in favor of allocating that amount of money.

Board member Linda Hansen said one of the school districts in her school board district is struggling financially while the state board is talking about spending around $500,000 on public relations.

“When we talk about spending a half a million dollars, it gives me pause,” Hansen said.

Chief of staff Tiffany Stanley said one goal of the contract communications effort is to roll out the board’s strategic plan to the public in 2019 by identifying “key messages that resonate. It’s sometimes difficult to do that when you’re on the inside, so that outside lens can be really valuable.”

Board member Carol Lear questioned the use of federal mineral lease research and development funds to pay for the board’s strategic communications efforts.

“If it’s important enough for the board to be doing this, we shouldn’t be doing it with mineral lease money,” she said. “We should be building it into our budget with stable funding.”

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Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com

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