Former television news reporter Lorey Schultz has been named chief of public relations for the district, leaving Mayor Byron W. Brown’s Communications Department after nearly two years as deputy director.
Schultz, 49, who starts Monday, will earn $115,000 while Elena Cala, the current media specialist, will earn $82,000.
“My goal is to have good, honest, open communication,” said Schultz, who will report directly to Superintendent Pamela C. Brown.
The new post is part of Brown’s reorganization of her cabinet, but School Board members on Wednesday questioned why the district needs the new position.
“I think the money should be spent on an instrumental music program,” said board member John B. Licata. “I think the chief of public relations should be the superintendent, with Elena Cala.”
The reorganization plan gave Cala a $2,000 raise, although she now will report to Schultz. Cala’s new title is special assistant for community relations. She was formerly special assistant to the superintendent and public information spokeswoman.
Cala’s duties will not change, according to Mary Guinn, former interim deputy superintendent and a consultant to the district.
Salaries for Schultz and Cala total $197,000, not including benefits.
“Why are we spending so much for this?” Licata said, adding later, “We don’t have an image problem; we have a results problem.”
The superintendent became convinced that the district needed more resources in community relations because of the volume of requests she gets to speak and respond to the community, Guinn said.
“She gets multiple requests on the same day, at the same time, for many, many media and community outreach activities,” Guinn said.
Schultz and Cala can be surrogates for the superintendent at events when necessary, she said.
Schultz is aware that her district salary will be scrutinized by the public. “I will work so hard to make myself worth every penny of that,” she said. “I don’t take that lightly.”
Schultz said she was approached about the school district job in July and is anxious to hit the ground running. She will be responsible for interactions with media, parents and students.
Meanwhile, an executive assistant to the superintendent, Patrick Fanelli, will earn $68,000 and has some communications responsibilities, but Guinn said he will not interact with the media.
Earlier this year, board member Jason M. McCarthy suggested contracting with a private firm to provide public relations, in order to save money on pension and health insurance costs, “but I guess that fell on deaf ears,” he said.
McCarthy said he is still waiting for more details about the superintendent’s reorganization plan.
“It’s another position that concerns the board, yet again,” he said.
Schultz fills the fourth new administrative position added to the superintendent’s executive cabinet since this summer. The reorganization’s goals included saving money and reducing “excessive high/mid-level management positions.”
Schultz left WIVB-TV, where she was a news reporter, and joined Mayor Brown’s staff in October 2011.
She was paid $81,000 annually and did most of the writing that came out of the mayor’s office. She also organized news conferences, moderated CitiStat meetings, kept track of projects in city departments that were of public interest and organized communications for major events, such as the mayor’s State of the City address.
“Lorey did a great job, this is a good opportunity for her, and we wish her all the best,” Mayor Brown said through a spokesman.
Schultz lives in North Buffalo and has two children.
News Staff Reporter Sandra Tan contributed to this report. email: firstname.lastname@example.org