With Brighton Area Schools looking at a budget amendment that leaves board members wondering whether the district will have a balanced budget at the end of the fiscal year, Secretary Nick Fiani spoke out against the district's social media costs while reviewing bills, during Monday night's meeting.
Brighton Schools currently pay a district parent with a social media company $500 a month to actively post and monitor its Facebook and Twitter accounts 24-hours a day.
Superintendent Greg Gray said the cost worked out to about $17 a day.
"Maybe that is an area that we can cut," Fiani said. "That's not going to save the district, I know that, I'm not that naive. But I think we should dissect it further."
Fiani said that the $6,000 a year is an unnecessary expense for the district as it struggles to pay off its $7.4 million debt.
Instead, Fiani suggested asking a parent to volunteer or open it up for a college internship.
"The only thing worry about in those scenarios, is consistency," Gray said. "Consistency is a big thing in a school district, especially when you're dealing with important information that has to get out there right.
"When I close a school building, peoples lives are at stake," he said. "Because if they don't get the information and they go out on the road and they get killed, I have to live with that. So for me to pay $500 a month to make sure things are posted right - I don't know, we have to weight that out. We put it out on the school website, on the TV, but a lot of people don't go to the TV, and they don't go to our web page. They go to Facebook and Twitter."
Fiani said that he did not consider 1,700 not a lot of followers on Facebook.
Kara Weingartz, Brighton High School student representative to the board, said she finds the district's social media accounts helpful.
"I personally follow the Twitter account and the posts are very helpful. I retweet them so my 200 followers can see them and other people see them and it's a great way to communicate. Social media is so important right now and I think it's important that we keep it the way its been going.
Brighton Patch Facebook fans were conflicted about the issue.
Kim Williams Pohl wrote, "First, I can not believe that they were paying for the monitoring...I personally have not been following but feel this is a topic that should not go on addressed. Internet/social networking as proved to be a place where trouble can be detected."
Stephanie Saah Allor wrote, "I agree with Kim...$500! To monitor social media that's crazy."
J Michael Lenninger disagreed.
"You need someone who has a dog in the hunt, and the person currently doing this has children in BAS and also is a PhD and is enormously responsive to negative postings and suggestions," he wrote. "I don't think you can get the same level of service from a contractor. That being said, I can understand when you're facing a deficit, you look for any way to cut the budget of 'fluff.' But if monitoring the social media prevents one needless tragedy, isn't it worth it?"
Gray said that if the service goes out to bid, he has no doubt that the bids would come back at more than twice the current price.
What do you think? Should the district continue to pay $500 for social media management?