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A. Public Information
B. Community and Parental Involvement
C. Collaborative Partnerships

CURRENT SITUATION

The MPISD Public Information Office (PIO) is staffed by two public information officers, who report directly to the superintendent. One officer teaches a high school career and technology class, called Media Technology, and performs PIO functions approximately 60 percent of time. The other officer performs PIO functions approximately 50 percent of time and spends the other 50 percent as the gifted and talented education program coordinator.

The responsibilities of the PIO are:

  • Prepare monthly newsletters
  • Coordinate American Education Week activities
  • Prepare weekly calendar of events for distribution to media outlets
  • Coordinate campus reporters
  • Produce MPISD Today program for radio broadcasts
  • Coordinate Red Ribbon week activities
  • Prepare press releases
  • Write feature stories for the local newspaper
  • Update media outlets daily about district activities
  • Coordinate Fan Appreciation Night
  • Produce and edit promotional videos
  • Coordinate district's Speakers Bureau
  • Develop and publish most district brochures
  • Develop special advertisements for the newspapers
  • Develop Family Friendly Business program
  • Help start Junior Achievement in district.

Exhibit 3-1 illustrates the cost of operating the PIO for the past three years and the current year's budget.

Exhibit 3-1
Public Information Office Expenditures
1995-96 - 1998-99
Budget
Category
Actual
1995-96
Actual
1996-97
Actual
1997-98
Budgeted
1998-99
Salaries and benefits $24,093 $46,116 $46,741 $42,900
Contracted services $10,831 $12,126 $0 $0
General supplies $905 $1,684 $2,334 $2,000
Travel and other 3,105 $2,752 $3,681 $4,600
Capital outlay $0 $2,999 $0 $1,000
Total $38,934 $65,678 $52,746 $50,500
Source: MPISD Finance Office and 1998-99 Budget.

Exhibit 3-2 provides the results of a telephone survey of peer districts, comparing the number of full time equivalent (FTE) positions employed in each district's public information office.

Exhibit 3-2
Comparison With Peer Districts
Regarding The Use of Public Information Office
School
District
Does District Have PIO? Number of PIO Personnel Comments
Mt. Pleasant Yes 1.1 FTE Two professionals, both part-time.
Kaufman No N/A N/A
Terrell Yes 2.0 FTE One professional and one clerk
Paris Yes 1.5 FTE 1.5 FTE represents one professional and a part-time clerk
Texarkana Yes 1.0 FTE PIO also supervises the print shop
Liberty-Eylau Yes 1.0 FTE  
Athens No N/A N/A
Kilgore No N/A N/A
Greenville Yes 1.0 FTE  
Corsicana Yes 1.0 FTE Just hired the PIO. Will hire a full-time secretary to assist.
Source: Survey conducted by WCL Enterprises November 1998

The survey indicates that only three of MPISD's peer districts do not have a PIO. The others have staffing similar to MPISD.

FINDING

The PIO produces publications for individuals and organizations within the district and the surrounding community. Exhibit 3-3 provides a list of district publications and programs, a description of each, and the audience it is intended to reach.

Exhibit 3-3
Listing of MPISD Publications and Programs
1997-98
Publication/
Program
Description/Frequency Targeted Audience
Tiger Pause Monthly newsletter All employees
FYI Issue specific newsletter Administrators
MPISD Calendar Updated weekly Newspaper, cable TV, radio stations
MPISD Today Weekly radio program Local community
Horizon Sunday full page pullout Local community
Brochures Examples: Speaker's Bureau, Know Your School Board, Test Taking Tips, PIO Handbook Parents, students, and the community at large
Source: MPISD Public Information Office.

Reporters at each campus provide information for the MPISD Calendar. The reporters are teachers, aides, or secretaries at the school, who volunteer for the position. The PIO has arranged with the local paper to provide film and free developing for pictures taken at each campus. The PIO prepared a Public Information Handbook and provides training for each campus reporter. Calendar information is scrolled on the local public access cable TV channel and is updated each week. Many people in the community indicated during focus group discussions that the calendar was an excellent way to learn about MPISD activities.

A unique program is MPISD Today, which is a short radio program featuring MPISD activities. The program is aired during football, baseball, basketball, and softball games. The program is produced by the Media Technology class at the high school, which is taught by one of the public information officers. The program is broadcast by KALK 97.7 FM, which contracts with the district to broadcast sporting events.

The PIO sends frequent press releases to the local newspaper, radio stations, and TV stations. Exhibit 3-4 indicates the number of press releases sent to the various media outlets for the six-week period from September 1, 1998 through October 20, 1998. According to the PIO, this number of press releases is representative of press releases provided throughout the year.

Exhibit 3-4
Press Releases to Various Media Outlets
September 1, 1998 - October 20, 1998
Media Outlets Number of Press Releases
Mt. Pleasant Daily Tribune 33
KALK radio station 36
K101/KIMP radio station 30
KIMP Spanish speaking radio station 12
Channel 54 television station 31
Channel 19 cable television station 12
Total 154
Source: MPISD Public Information Office.

Most of MPISD press releases are about events at a specific school or districtwide activities and are sent to all the outlets listed above. The press releases sent to the Spanish-speaking radio station are provided in Spanish and target the district's Hispanic population. A district employee who works at P. E. Wallace Middle School goes to the station and reads the releases in Spanish.

During March 1997, there were 132 articles about MPISD activities in the Mt. Pleasant Daily Tribune. During prior years, the PIO provided a clipping service for the school board consisting of all articles in local papers about the district. The PIO discontinued the clipping service in May 1997 at the request of the board because board members all subscribed to the paper and indicated that they did not need the information compiled again. The review team reviewed the clippings for the 1996-97 school year and found that coverage has continued at about the same level for the past three years. In the opinion of the PIO, the local paper has always provided substantial coverage of district events.

COMMENDATION

The Public Information Office provides a wide assortment of publications and programs for the community, media, parents, students, and district employees.