Dayton Public Schools to hire Cleveland firm on a no-bid for PR

Sources have provided me with a copy of the agreement between Burges & Burges, a PR firm in Cleveland, and the Dayton Public Schools for a no-bid contract for $6,000 a month for 18 months.

I’ve attached the agreement for all to read.burges-contract

Being in the PR and advertising business- I must disclose, I’d love to work on changing the perception of the Dayton Public Schools. My firm, The Next Wave, has done award-winning work for Stivers in the past, and is currently helping their non-profit (for full disclosure).

I can also tell you that this contract is the lamest excuse of a contract I’ve ever seen.

The scope of services that are being provided for the $6,000 per month have zero promises attached. Burges & Burges could have a single phone call each month and collect the cash.

The School Board would be agreeing to undefined amounts of additional costs in addition including:


DPS agrees to reimburse Burges & Burges for the IRS-approved rate for mileage and actual costs for shipping and volume copies that are directly realted to Burges & Burges’ performance of this agreement.

Other Costs

Fees do not cover the costs for third-party vendor services such as media time and space, surveys, postage, mailing lists, design, production and distribution of printed or video materials.

In other words, it costs $6K a month to talk to us, and everything else is billed on top, with no specified limits. For $6K a month, The Next Wave would actually provide services at a specified hourly rate, including delivery of press-ready print projects and HD video that we produced internally. Time that wasn’t utilized, wouldn’t be billed.We also don’t have to travel 200 miles each way to have a meeting. I guess this is a bit closer than Steve Avakian, their former “consultant,” who used to fly in from Boston on the taxpayers’ dime.

B&B also claims that they will:

7) Help DPS utilize its website, customer lists [public directory information] and other community data bases as a platform for “connecting” much better with parents, and guardians, local constituents, community leaders and Dayton residents. Design a plan to help transition DPS communications, customer outreach and feedback to utilize more e-mail and possibly text messages given today’s communications technology

Considering B&B’s site is built with tables (a technology that no self-respecting web developer in this century would use) and that they have no CSS, RSS or CMS- I find this laughable. Never mind that B&B would be hard pressed to tell the board who community leaders in Dayton are- never mind have their home numbers in their iPhone.

DPS actually is utilizing a CMS for their website, albeit one that I’m not familiar with (we tend to work with the big three: Drupal, Joomla! and WordPress)- which puts them far ahead of B&B.

While B&B can claim credit for helping pass the last levy- we also have to realize it was a request for a third of as much of a levy, and they spent well over half a million dollars to pass it. No one has identified where the money will come from, or how much will be allocated for buying media, printing or even the production costs associated with this proposed contract.

Supposedly, this will be voted on this Saturday at the Board’s all-day retreat/meeting/work session [UPDATE: 1pm, 6th Floor, Board of Education]. I plan on being there to ask questions- and provide options for working with a local firm. My list of Agencies that aren’t The Next Wave would be a good place for the School Board to start when looking for competent local agencies that can both save them a lot of mileage- but may actually know people in the community and how to build a campaign that will resonate with Daytonians.

The best part of the B&B proposal is that they plan on:

9) Advise the District and new Accountability Panel on how to best communicate with residents and the media in easy to understand formats regarding the ongoing progress of the District and areas that need continued improvement.

The first step would be to suggest that this bid be openly competed- and have a more clearly defined set of costs and deliverables for a district that has just barely won the trust of the taxpayers with a small operating levy.

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GladGirlLarkinGeneDavid Esratipizzabill Recent comment authors
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PR for DPS is a waste of time and money – sorry. Yes, it should be bid upon though.

DPS suffers from leadership, PR works when you feel there is good leadership. There is not.


Woops, forgot to say………..

That being said, your firm or another DAYTON company would do a great job. Who is more intimate with DPS and Dayton than Esrati?

Rascally Rascal

They loathed Socrates too though Gene. Esrati suffers from Socrates syndrome. He makes the powers angry with his questions.

Don’t drink the hemlock Dave!

David Lauri

How fun that Burges and Burges’s website is “Copyright ©2006 Burges & Burges Strategists.” You’d think they’d have done some work on it since 2006, but I guess not, especially since they’re using DHTML menus created with NavStudio, a tool I’d never heard of but which seems to be from OpenCube who point out that they’ve replaced NavStudio with their new tools Infinite Menus and QuickMenu (and who pays for tools to create menus on websites anyway?!). I guess Burges and Burges’s cutting edge is rather dulled.


The really unfortunate aspect of this is that taxpayers see it (and rightfully so) as a waste of the money they agreed to pay with the passage of Issue 52. Voters believed they were supporting students and teachers when they agreed to support the levy for the schools, and yet one of the first stories about DPS spending money is on an non-local PR firm. Who’s running that show and how can they be quite so stupid?


Just to clarify . . . DPS desperately needs a shot of good PR. But engaging an out of town firm to provide minimum services for maximum return can not be construed as a prudent decision.

Rascally Rascal

DPS could fire every PR person, and drop every single commercial ad buy were it to do one thing: raise test scores.

There is no better advertising than reality.


Raise test scores…….right……. i have not laughed this hard in 25 yrs……..
They can’t raise test scores. They simply can not. Why bother. Let me keep my tax money and promote NO SEX FOR IDIOTS.

Why do we want to spend money on an endless quest? It will never get better. For those who don’t believe in praying, most of you, why bother doing just that. DPS – what a joke.

Why bother painting the house when the foundation is crumbling?

painful truth.

ShortWest Rick
ShortWest Rick

I recognize the html on B&B’s website, it’s one of those websets you can download for free with a linkback to the ‘author’ or buy for $35 to have the linkback removed. Additionally telling is they didn’t remove the unused .css references in the html. I thought their website was slow to load so I checked the hosting, it’s hosted at Web Hosting Metro, probably on the $4.95 a month plan but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they sprung for the $11.95 a month plan. I’m impressed that someone with the apparent abilities of a grade school dropout can go back and get six grand a month from DPS.

Teresa Lea

I had a good comment in my head, till I saw a pingback from Ohio Christian Singles.

Now I can’t quit laughing.

David Esrati
David Esrati

I deleted the Ohio Christian Singles spam link.
I’m going to turn in an alternative proposal written with real prices and objectives from my local firm.
It will be less than $100,000 and actually include deliverables.


DPS can easily raise test scores, just as Ohio has traditionally done, by lowering standards. Remember the 9TH Grade Proficiency Test that set the standard to graduate from the 12th grade in Ohio… that parents complained about because it was unfair and tooooo difficult?

Parents can’t neglect their children for 15 years and expect the teachers to suddenly make them proficient in 3 or 4 years of high school. As a parent I know it’s the parent’s job to educate their kids, and the teacher’s job to help. Period.

Remember the line in “Good Will Hunting” where Will says to the Harvard student, “Someday you’ll figure out you spent $150,000 on a f***ing education you could have got for $1.50 in late charges at the public library.” It’s not the schools.


Not enough PR flash in the world to make me send my kid to DPS.
The slicks in my mailbox only make it as far as the trash can on the porch.
Moving is not an option so we continue to send her to another public school district- whom I don’t receive any PR materials from.

I accepted a long time ago that DPS is wiping their hind ends with our money no matter what, so it makes no difference to me. It used to matter to me but when it became clear that things were not going to change, I just stopped letting the anger eat me up and moved on.

It’s a bad product so, good luck with that.


GG, In the interest of fair disclosure, perhaps you might said that your daughter tried multiple times to be admited to Stivers? Isn’t that a little different than “Not enough PR flash in the world to make me send my kid to DPS” and “It’s a bad product, so good luck with that.” It just sounds like sour grapes. Now that Julian is at Stivers for his second year, I know the ropes better, and if your daughter should want to take one last stab at it, I have some ideas of how to best work the audition system. But, let me tell you something else– Stivers weakest link is its theater department. The woman who runs that is an absolute tyrant and the results she gets from the kids speaks to how ill-fit she is to teach. My son, who played Puck in a full scale original language production of Midsummer Night’s Dream when he was 8 years old did not get into theater, for which we have been very grateful in hindsight. Some of the visual arts programs are also top heavy for audition. As for “slicks in the mailbox” I can’t imagine that David has that up his sleeve for a proposal. They are an absolute waste of time and money. But better contacts with the media and better publicity for what’s actually going on in the schools could be a start. Two schools in Dayton made it to the USA Today list, not a small achievement when you consider the uphill battles those teachers and administrators face daily– particularly when you consider the climate of contempt they’re supposed to function in. All the people who want to denigrate the schools remind me of the twenty-somethings who say “Dayton Sucks.” They all might as well leave and go somewhere else– it is so often people who haven’t seen much of the big wide world who are so ugly about their home town. I think that you are the poster that works at the Hospice– I want to tell you that every single day I am grateful all… Read more »


twenty somethings? People of all ages think Dayton sucks.

Pizza Bill, you are 100% right. Teachers are there to offer “what” to learn, it is a parents job to make sure it actually learned.

I like Dayton but I will make no bones about it, I would never, ever send my kid (which I have none) to DPS. It would not be an option. Sorry. Too many rough shot kids bc their parents are that, using the word “ain’t” ain’t going to happen. It is just a bad idea if you care about your kid.


Gene, given the syntax and grammar in your post, you might have benefitted from an education in Dayton Public Schools. Or any education, for that matter. Perhaps if you had spent more time learning and listening, (rather than thinking you knew it all) you’d have a better facility with your native language.

Having moved here specifically so I could send my kid to a Dayton school (Stivers, granted and not just any old school in the district) I resent the implication that I don’t care about my kid.

It’s roughSHOD, btw, as in how you run amok spreading ignorance on nearly every thread of this blog. Have a nice day.


“Know” Sh*t Larkin – i put rough shot bc that is what my friend says. He always butchers things of that nature. Larkin, I think you missed the point on DPS and what I think regarding DPS. Let me state it again. DPS suck, and kids who attend DPS are worse off than attending suburbans schools. You are putting your child at risk. If you send your kid to any DPS you really don’t care about them. Sorry. Resent it but it is true.

Now I will go count my money.

I have to laugh………..Hahahahahah ……….. you MOVED here to send your kid to DPS, and you think I am stupid.

Again, I will go count my money. You folks can count the cigarette butts in your front yard, and you don’t even smoke.


Larkin, how is your over priced art work selling? Is your consignment store doing well? Are you knitting your hats and gloves?


Dear Gene,
You have illustrated my point beautifully. Many thanks. Though I see that the GED classes were cancelled today due to the weather, I’m sure that you could arrange to enroll for some other Saturday. Good luck with improving your education! It’s always heartwarming to see people still trying to achieve things, even when they’re in their golden years. Have a good one, buddy.


You, my friend, are not helping your child.

DPS, give me a break. Seriously, it is a joke.

2 parents showed up for parents night at DPS (high school) What a joke.

I have a business degree. I like to count money.

You like to paint. Or knit. Or whatever little thing you do to think you are “real.” You are special Larkin. You made a decision that may scare your kid for life. Good job.


For those who may have missed the news . . . (and may be laboring under the impression that I don’t care about my child or his education)

US News and World Report Places Stivers on America’s Best High Schools 2009 list

US News and World Report in collaboration with School Evaluation Services, a K-12 education and data research and analysis business analyzed academic and enrollment data from more than 21,000 public high schools to find the very best across the country. These top schools were placed into gold, silver, bronze or honorable mention categories.

State of Ohio Statistics: Gold Medals (4) Silver Medals (37) Bronze medals (46)

Montgomery County Gold Medals (0) Silver Medals (2) Oakwood and Centerville Bronze Medals (2) Stivers and DECA.

Greene County has 1 Silver (Bellbrook) and 1 Bronze (Cedarville) Darke County has 1 Bronze (Versailled) and Auglaize had one Silver (Minster)

Too bad for the kids in schools in Kettering, Moraine, Beavercreek, Brookville, Vandalia, Huber Heights, Fairborn, West Carrollton, Miamsiburg, Valley View etc.

Furthermore, Stivers earned the State Superintendent’s School of Promise Award which recognizes schools with high levels of achievment with little or no achievment gap between students of different race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

Nine students at Stivers earned AP Scholar Awards this winter in recognition of their exceptional achievment on AP exams. The nine students scored in the top 18 percent of 1.6 million students worldwide.

This is particularly meaningful when you realize that Stivers has a population that is well-integrated and that more than 90 percent of the students are considered economically disadvantaged. It would be interesting to see if Oakwood and Centerville did as well if they faced some of the same challenges.


Again! You’ve given me more great examples of what I observed earlier! I really appreciate that you’re so obliging. I’m not sure where you became so misinformed as to my avocation (perhaps where you became so misinformed about so many other things)but you are indeed way off the mark. I’ve been well-decorated for my work in journalism, including recognition for work in the areas of Freedom of Information, the Criminal Justice system, and newspapers in service to their community. Oh, and multiple nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. People tell me their stories. All kinds of people: celebrities, death row inmates, federal judges, bus drivers, divas, other writers, foxhunters, coroners, cops, strippers, ranchers, stockyard workers, actors, railroadmen, the man who fired Walter Cronkite, and a lot of regular people with extraordinary stories.

Tell me your story, Gene. Does your money keep you warm at night?


I am warm. Just put in a bundle of 100 dollars bills in the fireplace. It is burning….. slowly.

Keep hanging out with regular people. I like hanging around successful people.

How was Taco Bell tonight? Or was it White Castle?

Did you make $200 or $300 this week? How is the art show? Did you make a basket this week that you want to sell for $900?

Please. DPS students suffer. Bottom line.

Stivers is impressive……… for Dayton. Pray for a scholarship.


We had dinner at home tonight, thanks. Both my husband and I love to cook and we’ve got a fantastic Wolf range to play on, so that’s our preference. Our finances are, of course, none of your business, but I will reassure you that we are doing just fine. Your sexism is showing with the constant “craft-related” remarks. I can’t imagine anyone paying $900 for a basket. We do enjoy raising, training and showing hunting dogs.

I do hope that you will find some help continuing your education as its clear that you aren’t able to read, or perhaps it’s just reading comprehension you struggle with. How sad that must be for you. It seems, Gene, that you don’t hang out with ANY people. But don’t worry, I’ve heard that adult education is a great place to meet new friends.


I thought Larkin was a guy.

I knit, paint, and craft ’till the end of most days. But I don’t think it is worth selling. I am a gay man (early 50’s, in my mind, if you care – 48 TBH) fyi.

Why should I bother to take adult education courses when I have taught them in the past? My life is fine, thank you. DPS are still a poor option. It must hurt you bc you re-post knowing they are inadequate.

Wolf ranges, though, are really nice. You put more thought into your kitchen than your kid’s education. NICE!!!

Second Place? Heck, your kid’s options are CC at best. Let me know when you drop your Mary Jane habit.

I also love dogs. Always have loved dogs.

Bottom line, DPS are not the best option. My opinion. Test scores prove me right.

Still, I really like the Wolf ranges. What did you make for dinner?

Opinions vary. Ask Dalton.

Good luck to those who decide they are more important than their offspring.

BTW, I made a basket a year ago, and sold it for a buck. She offered me $900. I was being nice.

Your value to society is decided by your decisions. You failed your kid. I know it hurts. Reallllllllllllly, Reallllllllllly bad. You can move though.

I also have a lot of friends – most are gay. I have straight friends, though. My “S” friends love (are) liberals, my “G” friends love (are)libertarians. Do you know the difference?

I am too old, now, to change the world. I live to work and travel. My life in “my nut shell”, IYW.

Judge me…… I enjoy it……


My child is a gifted cellist. He is also a talented actor, writer and filmmaker and has discovered that he likes making sculpture, especially the big metal stuff. I have a 5 year BFA from MassArt in Boston. I could have done another year for my masters, but I had to get out of Boston before I lost my mind. My husband has a degree in Math from UCLA. Neither of us went into professions that put our respective degrees to any use at all. Our son was born in Montana. He went to a rural school with 24 kids, grades k-8. It was good while it lasted, though we should have gotten him out of there a year earlier.Familiarity does breed contempt. The high school he would have attended has the highest dropout rate in the state, and that’s where they put all their efforts . . .keeping kids in school. Gifted kids drop out the fastest and the hardest it seems. They are not the easiest ones to teach. Plus you have to remember that this is rodeo culture. They ain’t got no use for stinkin’ cellos. (He did have private cello lessons in Bozeman.) He is also biracial– Eurasian, in a state that is 98 percent white. He is that weird combination that make a 14 year old -mouthy, independent, over-sensitive and self-conscious. Keeping him in that school would have been conscribing him to four years of misery. So we went looking for schools. My husband is retired from the RR, I do a little freelance work, we have some means and we could essentially live anywhere. We looked at performing arts high schools in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Birmingham, Atlanta, Augusta, Memphis and Dayton. My husband didn’t want to go farther north, I wouldn’t consider California. We chose Dayton because the city is a manageable size, they don’t have restrictive animal legislation and because we fell in love with the school. It is a vibrant and joyful place. The test scores are excellent. (And it is great to see that the lowest scores are in the first… Read more »

David Esrati

@gene and Larkin
I’ve been too busy with other things to moderate your squabble.
General rule here (which Gene should be well aware of) is not to pick on other people- but on their ideas only.
My best advice to all is to just ignore Gene.
Could we please end this squabble now, please?
Thank you.


David, I think you came to this a few posts late. I don’t think there’s a squabble here . . . my only issue is that Gene not make remarks about my child. That’s not cool. Otherwise, I think this was mostly friendly banter.



Sorry for getting personal, I type faster than I think :)

My problem includes the throwing away of tax dollars on this kind of BS. I think PR firms for any public school is a waste of money – and it is an out of town PR firm, which makes it worse.

I pay taxes and see little in return regarding education. A lot of you folks (liberals/democrats) want to throw money at problems, raise taxes. Well, in my opinion, the responsibility of education comes down to parents. Teachers at DPS may be great, but when kids come to school unprepared it hurts everyone. And it is not one or two kids, rather the majority of DPS students are not prepared everyday. This is not a money issue, it is a parental issue.

Yes, I know Stivers is the exception to the rule.

DPS spend more money per student than Oakwood or Centerville Schools. Who do you think is doing a better job of educating?

Teach adults to become responsible parents. Evidently, Larkin is just that.


The reason that DPS could benefit from the services of a good PR firm (like Esrati) is that the news media here does such a crummy job. A good local newspaper would be trying to support the schools, by both promoting the good and calling them out on the bad. When I was researching a story on Heather Walker (the trash can girl) who dropped out of Belmont, I was dismayed to see that Belmont has a drop out rate of more than 40 percent. They claim to be a computer skills magnet school, but they don’t have a functional website! Some investigative journalist ought to ask them why. Ought to ask them why fewer than six out of ten students make it to graduation. As they also ought to be covering the success story that is Stivers and some of the other schools. (For those of you who have never experienced a performance at Stivers, its really worthwhile to do so. The Jazz Band in particular (named best in the country multiple times) is extraordinary. But the work of all the music and dance students is remarkable. Of course, its hard to find out when those are happening if you’re out of the loop because the DDN doesn’t bother to cover it . . . too busy covering Christmas programs in Kettering. David Lawrence, who was vice principal at Stivers and is wonderful, talented man has gone to Thurgood Marshall (Colonel White) and I expect to see him turn that around. They did produce a Gates scholar last year. (One of 1000 students in the country who will have any and all educational and corollary expenses paid for life by Bill and Melinda Gates) THAT should have been front page news. ALL school board meetings ought to be covered in great detail. (I’ve done this beat and its often boring as hell, but necessary . . . and amazing what effect it has on school board elections and on making school board members accountable to the community.) Successful schools need to be lauded, schools not coming up to the… Read more »


Pinot Noir with fettucine alfredo? I don’t know about that……. but I love Pinot Noir. I find it the best wine with most food, in general, after full bodied dry roses (very versatile). I would have opted for a big white wine that could stand up to the alfredo.

But I would still drink the Pinot Noir…….

Where was the Pinot Noir from?


It was an Oregon vineyard . . . Stoller, maybe? A friend gave it to us for Christmas. I can fish it out of the recycle tomorrow if you’re really curious. I know that in pairings, fettucine (esp with shellfish) generally gets something like a Pinot Grigio, but I’m not sure that really works either. The way I make alfredo sauce (almost like a carbonara– in a creuset pan with heavy cream, butter and eggs and parmesan — yep no calories or cholesterol, lol) it really is a fairly hearty meal and I think a white would have too light. (For years I didn’t drink white at all. People have said I’m the mostly manly woman they know, and they mean it as a compliment generally.) Also, who wants to drink a chilled wine when it’s cold outside. It was good, we were happy.

Tonight is was just chili con carne and cornbread… I had a glass of milk with it. Winter evening kind of food. Up too late again. All the best.


In hindsight, I’m glad my kid didn’t make it into Stivers. For the record she tried twice, once for 7th. grade and once for 9th. grade. Of course I want to defend her and say she’s talented and all that, it just wasn’t meant to be and we’re only looking forward.

We don’t regret one penny spent on sending her to the public school she has attended for the last 3 years. We only regret the financial struggle of the tuition and the insult added to injury of paying tax dollars to a broken system that we can’t use.

Thanks Larkin for the shout out to Hospice of Dayton. I spend a great deal of my time and energy being part of the positive things here. (Even though I sound very bitter and whiney about being here, I’m really not.)

BTW everyone, there are a great deal of 20 somethings and 30 somethings who care about this city and their efforts to improve things are overlooked. Maybe because they don’t bring attention to it.
DDN won’t carry those kinds of stories either.
There was a time when the haters out numbered the ones who care but I see that shifting, thankfully.

People like Pizza Bill who care about the city and is a leader to his employee’s, not just a boss, these are the kind of people who promote real change.
Remember the history of John Patterson and how he treated the employees of NCR?
Everyone benefitted from his leadership, not just his employees.
Why can’t we have that today?