The Memphis City School district has recently approved a PR contract worth 310,000 US dollars with two D.C.-based marketing companies. News of the contract came soon after MCS was criticized for spending taxpayer money to chauffeur the deputy superintendent around, creating potential for an even bigger PR problem.
Memphis City School Board Commissioner Kenneth Whalum admitted that having a contract for the deputy superintendent that states security staff should drive him to and from work “is not only wrong, but a public relations nightmare”.
“Why would you even want that kind of PR boondoggle on you?” asked Whalum. “Why would you even want questions raised like this?”
On the very same night when the Action News 5 investigation into how taxpayers’ money was being spend, the school board approved a contract with Washington, D.C. marketing firms Reingold Advertising and Red Deluxe Development/Trust Marketing, “to get the positive message out about Memphis City Schools,” said Whalum.
According to MSC files, they reached out to marketing and communications firms in June to “assist MCS in public communications efforts in general, and the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative in particular.”
Yet apparently, the PR contract is not exactly a momentary whim for the MCS, nor a way to show taxpayers they just don’t care. School Board President Dr. Freda Williams explained that the marketing firm is a requirement of a $90 million grant given by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to implement a Teacher Effectiveness Initiative program.
“It is a requirement of the grant,” said Williams. “Every penny that we spend for that grant has to be accounted for.”
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