The Lakota Board of Education, minus two of its five board members, unanimously approved the hiring of Randy Oppenheimer Monday as a consultant to fill its open community relations position.
Oppenheimer was approved by the school board Monday on the recommendation of Superintendent Karen Mantia, who was absent from the board meeting due to a death in the family.
“This is a critical position,” Mantia stated in a press release from the school district. “It’s much more than just sending out information about the schools, although that’s important. We also need to do a lot of listening to our community and that’s what Randy is known for.
“We were very pleased to find someone with his skills.”
Oppenheimer developed “his skills” serving as the community relations director at the nearby Fairfield school district from 2000 to 2002 and from 2007 to 2011. He has also served as the board chairman of Partners in Prime, which is senior citizens agency that recently merged with Community First Solutions.
He has also served as the editor of the Fairfield Echo and as the city editor of the Middletown Journal.
In his new role, Oppenheimer will be responsible for planning and carrying out all of the district’s communications initiatives. He will also oversee media relations, the district’s website, and the school district’s relationships with community groups.
Oppenheimer will be paid $67,000 under a 50-week consulting contract. As a consultant, Oppenheimer is not considered a district employee and will not receive benefits.
It is unclear what role Elliot Grossman will serve in the Lakota school district after serving as its community relations consultant since October. Lakota Assistant Superintendent Robb Vogelmann said that role still needs to be discussed with Mantia.
Details regarding Grossman’s role and future compensation will not be known until Mantia returns to her office, which may not be until next week.
Grossman was brought in by the school district after Lakota gave former community relations director Laura Kursman a $90,000 settlement to end her employment. As part of the agreement, Kursman cannot apply for future Lakota job openings.
From October 2011 to July 16, 2012, the school district paid Grossman just more than $73,000 for his services.