The TUSD Governing Board gave the green light Tuesday to a $300,000 marketing campaign, part of an effort to increase enrollment and improve the district's public image.
Tucson Unified School District will contract with an outside vendor, Tucson-based Gordley Group, to advertise its successes and quality programs.
The campaign was approved 4-1 with board member Mark Stegeman voting against it.
While the majority of the board supported the expenditure, many called for finding ways to reduce the cost, including using in-house services.
"There's no arguing that TUSD could use a little bit of makeover as far as PR goes," said board member Cam Juarez, arguing that many positives in TUSD are often lost in all the conversation about the district.
But he also noted the negative that millions of dollars had to be cut from schools and programs to eliminate a $17 million deficit, so he urged district officials to do what they can to lower the cost.
Board member Kristel Ann Foster supported the campaign, calling it a "magic bullet." Foster prefers to leave the work to a professional firm.
"We are not (marketing) professionals; it's not my expertise," she said. "But I know it works and I have faith this investment will bring students trifold, which will bring employee salaries trifold."
Before the vote, the Governing Board heard from Marivel Roybal, a TUSD teacher who said the focus needs to be on valuing employees, not marketing.
"You have your priorities wrong," Roybal said. "When you can show me that I don't have to use my own paycheck to supply my classroom, then maybe I can trust. … That $300,000 could be better spent in a classroom."
Added speaker Cesar Aguirre: "No amount of advertisement can cover up the sour taste this district has left in the mouths of Tucsonans. It is a sad thing to see this district waste that much money on advertisement when there have been so many employees laid off this year."
The marketing plan, which is required under TUSD's decades-old desegregation order, will be paid for with desegregation funds, magnet-school grants and the maintenance and operations budget.
Strategies to market TUSD will include a new district logo, brochures, posters, mailers, media advertisements and research into effective messages. The district will also hold community events and fairs.
On StarNet: Read a transcript of reporter Alexis Huicochea's Twitter updates from Tuesday's TUSD Governing Board meeting at azstarnet.com/multimedia
Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea