Controversy after ECISD OKs $100,000 Agreement with Local Ad Agency

By Jen Kastner

NewsWest 9

ODESSA- This week, the Ector County Independent School District's Board of Trustees approved a nine-month contract with an Odessa advertising agency at a rate of $100,000.00. The board believes it will generate more effective communication between the district and the community.

ECISD Spokesperson Mike Adkins tells us, "I think the community recognizes and knows so much about the community colleges and the university and the hospital because they all advertise on a regular basis and they have a regular annual advertising campaign. Public schools have never done that and there's a perception that they should not be doing that. I don't agree with that. This going to be ultimately good. I understand the initial [shock] at looking at the [approved amount]."

The $100,000 price tag is a head-turner for many folks. Adkins tells us the district has already utilized all the resources it has available. It has a presence on facebook and on twitter. The school district's website is constantly updated. E-newsletters are distributed on a regular basis. Posters and billboards are all around the community. "Yet, there are gaps. We're [often told] by all of stakeholders, 'We never heard about that. Communication is terrible. You guys never let us know what's going on. We never heard it,'" says Adkins.

We're told the district will be working with Hunt Advertising and Consulting on this educational public relations campaign.

Several people around the community are expressing to NewsWest 9 that they disagree with the board's decision to approve the contract. On our NewsWest 9 facebook page, one person asks, "What in the world do they need to advertise about? They need better buildings [and] more teachers and counselors. What in the world were they thinking?" Another person wrote, "For 90K, I'd have run a facebook page for them. What a waste of money."

ECISD says the money is coming out of the general budget and no other resources will be compromised because of it. "Curriculum is number one and we spend a lot of money on curriculum. Classroom resources and training is priority number two. We spend a lot of money on staff development for teachers. We've never done that with communication," adds Adkins.

An advertising campaign has yes to be planned out, but will begin soon.

Midland Independent School District reports to NewsWest 9 that it spent just under $16,000 on marketing and advertising during the 2011-2012 school year. During the 2012-2013 school year, it has budgeted to spend just under $9,000 on marketing and advertising.