JCPS hires PR firm to temporarily handle communication duties - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS hires PR firm to temporarily handle communication duties

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools has contracted with a local public relations firm that will provide communications project management and support services for the district.

The contract with Guthrie Mayes Public Relations -- which will cost the district $9,500 through Oct. 31 -- includes "communications related to the start of school as well as other communications on projects as needed" and will be "provided by a senior counselor experienced in project management."

Bonnie Hackbarth, a senior counselor with Guthrie Mayes, will be the contact for the district's communications while Superintendent Donna Hargens continues her search for a chief communications officer. 

"We are taking the time we need to make a really informed decision," Hargens told WDRB News on Wednesday, adding that the district was still accepting applications for both chief communications officer and chief business officer. 

However, according to the JCPS website on Wednesday morning, neither job was listed. By the afternoon, it had been re-posted.

The contract is "not to exceed 50 hours at $190 an hour for a total not to exceed $9,500" through Oct. 31. Hackbarth will not be based in central office, but will assist with all media calls and open records requests, Hargens said.

JCPS had contracted with former communications director Stephanie Bateman to help on an interim basis, but Bateman's last day is Wednesday. Bateman had previously retired from JCPS in 2012 after 33 years with the district.

Hackbarth accompanied Hargens on two of her first day of school visits Wednesday.

Hargens has been searching to fill a position that has been plagued with inconsistency over the past three years. The previous chief communications officer, Helene Kramer, was notified in May that her one-year contract was not being renewed.

Kramer had been the subject of one district investigation last fall centered around making inappropriate comments about another employee. 

That move came after two other communications staff members -- Ben Jackey and Mandy Simpson -- announced their resignations on separate days within a week upon taking jobs elsewhere.

The communications department has been the subject of restructuring and turnover since 2012, when Hargens froze or eliminated 89 central office positions as part of an administrative reorganization.

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