Grayslake Elementary District 46 officials are considering whether to hire a politically connected public relations firm to guide communication efforts there.
Jasculca/Terman and Associates Inc. of Chicago is offering services such as creating a "customized communications tool kit" and media training for District 46 officials. It would cost $12,674 for the balance of the 2013-14 budget season if the school board wants to purchase all four parts of Jasculca/Terman's proposal.
District 46 board President Steven Strack said during a recent meeting he wants to see examples of Jasculca/Terman's work and gain a better understanding of the proposal before a decision is made on whether to hire the firm.
Board members are expected to further discuss Jasculca/Terman -- long known for its Democratic Party ties in Chicago and Springfield -- at a meeting April 2, with a vote possible that evening.
Officials who participated in a special committee said they have identified desired improvements in District 46's current communications to the public. Goals include improving taxpayers' knowledge of district decisions, accomplishments and initiatives.
Board members Susan Facklam and Jill Alfrejd have been part of the communications committee that consulted with a Jasculca/Terman executive to consider options for the district.
Under Jasculca/Terman's proposal, the $3,750 tool kit would include pointers on how to spread "good news" from District 46. Jasculca/Terman would be available for assistance to the district after creation of the customized communications kit.
"It's not just getting our good news out there," Alfrejd said. "We need to be seen as the experts on District 46 education. There are steps to do that."
For $1,500, Jasculca/Terman would give a 90-minute public relations and media training session to District 46 officials. The company also would go over the tool kit. Facklam said the PR and media training would be valuable.
"I think we're all aware we need to do a better job with that (PR)," she said. "And I think by having (training) come from someone outside that does this for a living, I think this is a good place to start."
Officials said funds for Jasculca/Terman would come from the current budget for professional and technical expenses, which has $19,000. Facklam said the tasks, such as the tool kit and media training, would be one-time costs if the district hires the firm for 2014-15.
Alfrejd said Jasculca/Terman's original proposal was for $30,000. Superintendent Ellen Correll said she was satisfied with work the firm provided for District 46 during a teachers strike in January 2013.
Jasculca/Terman's connections to the Democratic Party are evident in state campaign disclosure reports. Since 2011, the firm has given cash to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the Democratic Party of Illinois and others.
Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's inaugural ceremonies were coordinated by Jasculca/Terman in 2005. Chairman and chief executive officer Rick Jasculca, a close friend to Emanuel, served under former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
Woodland Elementary District 50 in Gurnee, Lake Villa Elementary District 41 and Lincolnshire-Prairie View Elementary District 103 are among the Lake County school systems that have used Jasculca/Terman for communications work.