The board of education for the Princeton Public Schools is being asked by the superintendent of schools to approve a contract for the 2023-24 academic year Tuesday night for a communications expert to do publicity for the school district part-time for the 2023-24 academic year for $80,000.
Lori Perlow, who was hired temporarily in June to do publicity and communications work after Elizabeth Collier retired, would continue to work for the district. District officials said back in June that Perlow would help search for Collier’s permanent replacement.
If Perlow is hired for the 2023-24 academic year, Princeton would become part of the Haddon Township Public Schools Communications Consortium. The Princeton Public Schools would pay the Haddon Township Board of Education the $80,000 as part of a shared services agreement. Perlow would provide communications services for the Princeton Public Schools for 108 days per year for the $80,000, which is $740 per day. Any additional days would cost the district $800 per day. The school board agenda item for Perlow says the job description is attached but as of Tuesday morning, a job description was not accessible on the detailed agenda online via Board Docs.
Perlow’s services would be shared among seven school districts that are part of the consortium, including Haddon Township, Princeton, Collingswood, Cinnaminson, Franklin Township, Union Township, and Haddon Heights. Perlow will receive a salary of $115,000, pro-rated, from the Haddon Township Public Schools as the public information officer for the consortium, according to the August agenda for the school board in Haddon Township. She will work a total of 200 days a year for the consortium.
Under the terms of the shared services agreement, Haddon Township is the employer of Perlow, who will act as the communications liaison and public information officer for all of the districts in the consortium.
Princeton would be responsible for paying any mileage for Perlow in excess of 25 miles from the Haddon Township Board of Education office at 500 Rhoads Avenue in Westmont. The rate would be 47 cents per mile. Social security, unemployment, taxes, and all benefits would be provided by Haddon Township, including Perlow’s health insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, and pension payments. Days off under Perlow’s contract would be recognized by both Haddon Township and all the participating school districts.
In Princeton, the public information and communications staff member has served as a buffer between Superintendent Carol Kelley and the press. Kelley does not respond to emails directly and often issues a response of no comment through the communications staff member. Sometimes there is no response at all.
For example, Planet Princeton reached out to Perlow on Aug. 17 to ask what the racial makeup is of the high school principal search committee, and who chose the committee members. Planet Princeton requested the information because a parent group has been critical of the committee selection, saying the committee does not include any Black parents. The committee does include Black staff members. Perlow never responded to the press inquiry. The reporter wrote a follow-up email to Perlow on the evening of Aug. 21 but received an auto-response that Perlow is on vacation. Kelley was also copied on the email and has not responded as of Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
At 9:45 p.m. on Aug. 21, Perlow did send out a press release about the district’s priorities for the upcoming school year. According to the release, the theme for the 2023-2024 school year is “Belonging and Community: Where Every Learner Thrives.”
In the release, Kelley says the district will focus on achievement in “literacy and numeracy” for students age three through third grade this year – in other words, teachers will focus on improving students’ reading and math skills. Students will receive 90 minutes of daily instruction in literacy and 60 minutes of daily instruction in math, according to the press release. Struggling students will be enrolled in academic support classes, and the team will “work collaboratively to analyze progress by monitoring data across content areas.”
School leadership teams will work to promote wellness and inclusion for all students, and will attempt to make sure students feel a sense of belonging and have a meaningful relationship with at least one adult in their schools.
Kelley also announced in the press release that all ninth graders will have a meeting with their school counselor and that additional opportunities “for student voice” are being explored.
“As we step into this new academic year, I want to express my deepest gratitude for your unwavering support in helping to shape the learning experiences of our students,” Kelley wrote. “The trusting relationships, open communication, and partnerships between you and PPS staff provide the supporting conditions for our students’ success.”