WCSD pays for a service other districts find unnecessary
RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) —
The Washoe County School District is looking to save every penny it can. But it's spending money to monitor news media coverage -- a service that other districts think is unnecessary.
Every year the district hires TV Eyes, a Connecticut company that monitors media coverage. The district pays $3,000 each year for TV Eyes to scan hundreds of radio and television stations and alert the Washoe County School District if it is mentioned in a story.
District Spokeswoman Victoria Campbell said they're specifically looking for any inaccurate information that may go out to the public.
"We want to know when information is going out that is not correct. It could be incredibly, critically important to our families; it could be an emergency situation," she said.
The TV Eyes website tells its clients that their service can "pinpoint relevant news and commentary, reach out to producers, and shift the conversation in your favor."
Government spending watchdog and Reno resident Jeff Church says $3,000 might not be a lot of money, but when the district is in a multi-million dollar budget shortfall, teachers' positions are being eliminated and more kids added to classrooms, it's not wise spending.
"$3,000 here, $5,000 there, pretty soon you're talking about real money. We can't even afford to pay our teachers well, we're going have buildings we're going to build but no teachers to put in them. It's just outrageous," Church said.
It's not uncommon for government agencies to use media monitoring companies. But News 4 was unable to find another school distinct in Nevada that does.
Not even Clark County in Las Vegas, which has four-and-a-half times the number of students as Washoe County. A Clark County School District spokesman told us it used to use a media service years ago, but now that their budget is tight, it doesn't make financial sense.
Instead, a staff member with other duties in the office takes on the additional task of searching news sites.
Vickie Campbell, the Washoe County School District spokeswoman, said it would be difficult to have a staff member do that.
"I think it's unfeasible to expect that someone can simultaneously listen to hundreds of radio stations, watching hundreds of television newscasts," she said.