The District 200 Board of Education recently approved the hiring of two non-certified staff positions designed to offer support in the area of communications and engineering. 

During an April 26 regular meeting, the school board unanimously approved the creation of a new, full-time communications specialist position at a base pay of $45,000, which includes benefits. The position is designed to provide some support for Karin Sullivan, the district’s current communications director. 

According to a summary of the position released by the district, Oak Park and River Forest High School “lags behind in the ability to have the fully robust communications program that best practices dictate.” Evanston Township High School, for instance, which has similar demographics to OPRF, has three communications staff people while other high schools similar to OPRF have two, the summary stated.

“While we serve our internal and parent audiences quite well, we do not have the capacity to fully inform the 70 percent of community households who do not have children in the school districts,” officials pointed out. 

The communications specialist position, officials explained, will expand the district’s communications operation “to include a more comprehensive, analytics-driven social media program; videos; an e-newsletter and/or video summary of the board’s [meetings]; a long-range plan to educate the community on district finances; a key communicators network; a comprehensive branding project; and an enhanced ability to seek out and promote stories about teaching and learning.” 

The school board also unanimously approved a full-time engineer, a position that will pay $70,000, which includes benefits. District officials said they anticipate the additional hire to result in a 70 percent decrease in overtime, or the equivalent of around $50,000, extended equipment life, and a reduction in service calls. 

“Over the course of the last 10 years, the district has replaced millions of dollars in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and other mechanical equipment throughout this vintage building,” the district’s summary explains. 

“Because we currently have only three engineers to do four engineers’ worth of work, there are few, if any, opportunities for preventive maintenance,” officials said. “The engineers constantly are in reactive mode rather than proactive mode.” 

District officials added that the engineering position will be paid for by money in the operations and maintenance fund — not the educational fund. 

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com    

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