West Jefferson Hills School District breaks ties with veteran PR consultant

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A steady flow of Twitter and Facebook posts and website updates alerting parents and students to the goings-on in the West Jefferson Hills School District could be a thing of the future.

The school board last week eliminated the communication consultant position; and officials said they plan to change their approach with public relations and focus on using technology to connect with parents and students.

“The world has changed. There's a lot of things out there and with what we have on the horizon, the more we communicate with technology, the better we're going to be,” board President Anthony Angotti said.

School board members approved the elimination of the position, effective immediately, in an 8-0 vote at their meeting last Thursday.

Mimi Haley has held the job for the last 14 years, though her role has changed during that time, Superintendent Michael Panza said.

Panza, who started in the district on June 24 as acting superintendent and took over the district's lead role Monday, said he was surprised that West Jefferson Hills was not using social media and a wide array of technology to communicate regularly with parents and residents.

“The technology has been available here, and we're not using it to its fullest potential and we'd like to do that,” Panza said.

District officials plan to review several options, including hiring a public relations firm, Panza said.

The move was not part of a cost-saving effort, the superintendent said.

“We'll still be expending funds to fill this need; it's just another way that we'll be filling this need,” Panza said. “The way that kids learn today, the way that kids get their information and the way that parents get their information is different than it was 14 years ago. We want to look at that and just explore all of the opportunities.”

That includes social media, Panza said.

Improving technology district-wide — including adding hardware to the schools — has been a focus in recent years.

“It's just a part of everyday,” Angotti said. “We're upgrading all of our buildings to bring state-of-the-art technology into every classroom. We're spending the necessary resources to get us where we need to be.”

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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