Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Joplin R-8 Board caps graphic designer costs at $12,000
Director of Communications Kelli Price told the board tonight that for the lack of a graphic designer, a high school student handbook has been delayed.
That did not sit well with board member Chris Sloan, who noted that an e-mail had been sent out that indicated the handbooks were not ready "as a result of staffing changes," a direct reference to the board's decision to remove the graphic designer position from this year's budget.
"You had all summer long to get that going. That ball falls in your court."
Price defended by herself, not only by citing not having a graphic designer, but also said the high school did not get changes to her on time.
The showdown over student handbooks came as Price brought the scaled down version of the request to hire a graphic designer that was narrowly rejected by the board at its August 9 meeting.
The original proposal was $50 an hour with a cap of $18,000, the amount the district budgeted for graphic design work. The graphic designer who submitted that bid was Christina Williams, the same designer whose position was eliminated during the budget cut.
Board members asked Price to return with a new proposal. Williams agreed to cut her cost per hour to $45, with the cost capped at $16,200.
During discussion, some of the same points from two weeks ago were raised, including board membe Debbie Fort's displeasure with paying a graphic designer more than twice what a classroom teacher makes per hour.
"We're not employing a teacher; we're employing a graphic design artist," board member Sharrock Dermott countered. "This appears to be the going rate."
Fort also noted she had heard from graphic designers who never heard the job was being bid and would have liked to have had the opportunity to bid on it.
Board member Lori Musser had a different problem. "I need to address the elephant in the room.This is a person whose position we have eliminated and now we're trying to bring this person back."
Price explained the bidding process, saying she had contacted three different advertising agencies and had asked the Joplin Advertising Federation.
CFO Paul Barr gave an impassioned defense of the way Price had handled the situation, saying she did things according to policy. It was noted that the only reason the matter was being brought to the board was because it has to make the decision on purchases and contracts totaling more than $15,000.
If the cost had been below that amount, since the money was already in the budget, Price could have hired Williams without having to go through the board.
Price said, "We know we need this service so we can be effective in our communication." The $63,000 a year communications director repeated her assessment from August 9 that she did not have the skill set to do what a professional graphic designer does.
Dermott said, "I congratulate her on her transparency."
Sloan amended Lynda Banwart's motion to accept the latest Price proposal to further reduce the cap on the graphic designer's services from $16,200 TO $12,000.
The amendment passed by a 4-3 vote, with Sloan, Musser, Board President Jeff Koch, and Jennifer Martucci voting in favor and Dermott, Banwart, and Fort casting "no" votes.