One must assume image is more important than the safety of the students and staff!

Scott Travis

Scott Travis Reporter South Florida Sun Sentinel

The Broward County school district is looking for better PR and is willing to pay someone up to $174,870 to make that happen.

The school district is advertising for a chief public information officer who can find ways to “champion a favorable public image and brand for the district” and can “bring to life the many stories” of the school district, according to a job posting.

The job pays between $104,836 and $174,870.

The school district has suffered a number of public relations hits since the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, which left 17 people dead.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel has reported on how Stoneman Douglas under-reported crime on campus, how the school failed to provide adequate special education services to killer Nikolas Cruz; and how a culture of leniency has allowed unruly students to receive countless second chances.

The school district also struggled to defend its controversial PROMISE program, which offers alternatives to arrests for some misdemeanors. The district initially said Cruz was never eligible for the program, only to backtrack and said he started the program but failed to complete it for reasons no one could explain.

School Board members have complained that the district needs to be more aggressive in defending itself against negative news coverage.

The new public information officer will replace Tracy Clark, who has held the position since Superintendent Robert Runcie started in 2011. She is being moved to director of marketing and strategic communications. Runcie said the position has existed for years but has been vacant in recent months.

“Since the tragedy of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it has been a challenge for Tracy to meet the unprecedented demands of a 24-hour global news cycle and fulfill all the responsibilities and obligations the job now requires,” Runcie wrote in a memo to School Board members. “Tracy Clark has given me a formal written request regarding this change and I believe it is appropriate and necessary at this time.”

Runcie wouldn’t say whether Clark, who makes about $150,000 a year, will keep her salary. He said any salary adjustment “will be consistent with policy” and pay range for the position.

Clark’s current salary will still fall within the range for her new position, which is $84,651 to $152,910. School district policy does not require a demoted employee’s salary to be lowered as long as it’s still within a job’s pay range.