In hopes of keeping Summit School District from suffering the same fate as Eagle County schools - which recently had to cut numerous jobs after voters nixed a property tax increase - the Summit School District is going on a permanent public relations campaign.
The district is looking into a doing a community survey to find out what the public knows - and doesn't know - about Summit's schools, before Summit School District Board of Education members and staff start reaching out. The plan is to begin meeting with local groups to educate the community about the district, and continue doing so on a yearly basis.
"It makes sense to be talking to people all the time, not just before an election," said David Cunningham, president of Summit Information Services, a local public relations firm. The company is providing its services free-of-charge to the district - an offer Cunningham approached the district with after what happened over in Eagle.
Eagle County didn't have good communication, and they ended up losing out, Cunningham told board members at their retreat last week. And while there isn't any ballot questions in the nearby future, at some point the district will be going to taxpayers for money, he said. Before that happens, the district shouldn't just be thinking about the residents with children who attend the schools, but also the taxpayers who don't.
"This is outside your normal scope," Cunningham told board members. "This is the 70 percent that don't have kids."
Those are the people who may not feel as invested in the district, and may not know why something like technology is important, or what the International Baccalaureate program is.
A preliminary survey about the district will give board members a "road map" of what needs to be discussed. The piece requires the services of an outside company, and is one the district will have to pay for. Cunningham is collecting bids, but estimates about $7,000 - $9,000 for one that will suit the district's needs.
Board members are currently pondering a dollar amount they would be comfortable with. But, Cunningham thinks the money will come back to them.
"I would bet you would get $9,000 in (volunteer) services back within six months of doing this program," he told the board. "I would be shocked if you didn't."