Sue Durbin proudly shows off the gymnatorium, media center and Imagination Station at Gorenflo Elementary to a small group of visitors. As head of the public relations department in the Biloxi School District, Durbin's job is to bring the public closer to the schools. That involves dealing with the media to printing brochures.
"Everyone is very interested in what goes on in our school system, and we want to make sure that they are informed of what's going on here in our district."
The Ocean Springs school superintendent is also looking for someone to help build a stronger tie between the district and the community.
Anna Hurt said, "It is constantly requested to send information out to parents, to the community, to the realtors, the recruiters coming in for home buying and businesses. We try to do anything that helps to portray our district in a better light and do a better job of educating our children."
Hurt says despite an $800,000 shortfall, the district has enough money to create this P.R. position. The district plans to cut back on its building budget and won't set aside money for the rainy day fund.
"We have just practiced very conservative spending through the years. Even though it is a costly position, I think it will pay off in the long run in terms of helping our parents better understand our schools and the community," Hurt said.
Sue Durbin also believes better understanding leads to a better education system.
"When we do get people in the community involved, it makes for a much stronger school and it all goes back to the children."
At least 31 school districts in Mississippi currently have a public relations director. The pay ranges from $25,000 to $55,000 a year.