Gearing up for an almost certain referendum in the not too distant future, LaGrange-Brookfield Elementary School District 102 has hired a communications coordinator. In an unusual and creative move, the district is sharing its new communications coordinator with another school district.
Stephanie Fordice will split her time between District 102 and Pleasantdale School District 107 in Burr Ridge. She will work in the District 102 headquarters on Wednesdays, Fridays and alternate Tuesdays.
Fordice, who began her new job on Oct. 26, is technically a full-time District 102 employee, but District 107 will pay half of her $55,000 salary and also pay half the cost of her fringe benefits.
District 102 Superintendent Kyle Schumacher came up with the idea of sharing the position with another district after he and the school board agreed last spring that the district needed to beef up its communication with the community.
Initial plans were to hire a half-time employee working solely for District 102, because there wasn’t enough work to justify hiring a full-time employee.
“I ended up calling some of the neighboring superintendents to see if anybody was interested in sharing a position, figuring that we would be able to get a higher-quality person if we would able to create a full-time position for them,” Schumacher said. “We checked with other districts and [District 107] was the one that came up first.”
Schumacher said he reached out only to other school districts that feed into Lyons Township High School.
Schumacher said that discussions with the school board led to the conclusion that District 102 needed to communicate better with its community.
“One of the things that had come up with the board was needing to look at the fact that there had been some concerns about being able to appropriately get communications out to the community, both from a district level, building level, things that were happening,” Schumacher said. “Our website needed some work as well.”
He said the district will launch a semiannual community newsletter about what is happening in the schools. Schumacher also has been appearing around the district to give a talk he calls “Futureproofing our Children.”
“We want to make sure that people who don’t necessarily have kids in the school district understand what’s happening in schools,” Schumacher said. “So we’re connecting with our senior centers, whether it’s Bethlehem Woods or Plymouth Place, in particular.”
Fordice, a native of Oak Lawn who graduated from Saint Xavier University in 2000 with a degree in communications, has significant experience working in schools.
She worked as the communications coordinator for Blue Island District 130 from 2010 until 2014. Earlier in her career she worked as a special education instructional aide in Oak Lawn District 123 and a study hall supervisor at Shepard High School.
She has also done graduate work in secondary education at DePaul University. Fordice has worked in communications for the Villa Park Parks and Recreation Department and Hinsdale Humane Society.
Schumacher said the District 102 school board has not made a decision yet on when to have a referendum.
“We know that we have a deficit again this year, similar to the last several years, and that we’re going to need to be looking at a combination of reducing costs and increasing revenue,” Schumacher said.