The Dayton Public Schools has decided on one way to handle the problem of low test scores and declining enrollment.

They've hired a flack.

That's right, faced with its annual inability to get it right in the classroom, the Dayton school board will begin paying $6,000 a month to Burges & Burges Strategists, a Cleveland public relations firm, to burnish the district's image and perform other types of PR work (see here).

Interim Superintendent Kurt Stanic, quoted in the Dayton Daily News, said the district needs to explain to the public how it is spending money from the passage of last year's school levy.

That's funny since Burges worked for the Dayton schools to get the levy approved.

Burges didn't have to bid on the contract and perhaps that's fair given its monumental challenge. The firm's assignment is to work on "image and brand enhancement," according to the Dayton Daily News' Anthony Gottschlich. Good luck. The Dayton schools are mired in academic watch (a D on the state report card), and the district has lost a quarter of its students in the last eight years.

Not every board member thinks hiring the firm is a good idea. "It doesn't look good," Joe Lacey said. "We're acting like a 30,000-student district and we're not....We're last place in the state in performance and I don't think the answer to that is to get a slogan with more punch to it."

In Cincinnati, the school board is taking a different approach. Teachers and administrators not getting the job done are being removed (see here). Plans are now underway to replace the entire staffs of three schools: Mount Airy School, Rothenberg Preparatory Academy, and South Avondale School. These three schools have repeatedly failed to help students improve on standardized test scores, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Ben Fischer.

The schools will be redesigned. New leadership and teachers will use new education methods and curricula to try and improve student performance. Teachers, principals, and other workers removed can reapply for their old jobs, or else take other positions in the district.

Last year, the Cincinnati schools removed every employee, but for three cafeteria workers, at Taft Elementary School. Reassigning teachers and administrators doesn't necessarily mean they're bad, only that the particular mix or synergy in a school isn't working, according to the district.

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