JCPS seeks $10,000 contract extension with public relations firm - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS seeks $10,000 contract extension with public relations firm

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools is seeking to extend its contract with a local public relations that has been providing communications services for the district since August.

The initial contract with Guthrie Mayes Public Relations was not to exceed $9,500 through Oct. 31 and 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."

According to an amended contract up for approval at Monday's Jefferson County Board of Education meeting, the agreement increases the contract amount with Guthrie Mayes by an additional $10,000 (not to exceed a total of $19,500) for services through Jan. 31, 2016.

The firm will continue to bill the district $190 per hour, the contract states.

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

Hargens told WDRB News in August that the district is "taking the time we need to make a really informed decision."

The district was still accepting applications for both chief communications officer and chief business officer. In addition to chief communications officer, there are three full-time open positions in that office, which have not yet been advertised.

The amended contract also includes a non-complete clause that states that the board would not hire any employees of Guthrie Mayes until after one year subsequent to the termination of his/her employment with the firm. 

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.

JCPS had contracted with former communications director Stephanie Bateman to help on an interim basis, but Bateman's last day was Aug. 12. Bateman had previously retired from JCPS in 2012 after 33 years with the district.

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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Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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