New administrator forecasts improved district communications

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Brian Harward staff writer

A newly created position in the district has been filled by an unfamiliar face with an unlikely background.

New Director of Communications Laura Skirde received a degree in journalism from University of Colorado at Boulder and subsequently took her first job as a broadcaster in Casper, Wyoming. After a 10 year career as a broadcaster, she took classes to become a credentialed meteorologist. Before coming to the district, Skirde was a meteorologist for eight years on Good Morning Sacramento.

“I would compare several different models, satellite and radar data, reading forecast discussions from the National Weather Service [to create the forecast]. We kind of use all of that information together to come up with the weather forecast for the day,” Skirde said.

Although Skirde has no formal training in education, she feels many of the skills she picked up in news broadcasting will translate well to her new role.

“In my career as a journalist, I had to become an instant expert on any subject,” Skirde said. “In school district life, it is a matter of whatever the issue of the day is. It might be our curriculum or a board decision; not one person has all the information. It’s up to me to be quickly updated and educated about the issue so I can communicate what’s important about it.”

According to Superintendent Michael Bregy, the job had nearly 40 applicants, but, as the numbers were narrowed down, Skirde distinguished herself from the pack.

“The thing that captivated us the most about Laura was her ability to be able to handle multiple things at the same time, and being able to juggle and prioritize and analyze complex issues, where she is ready to report them out,” Bregy said.

When the position was first announced at the end of the 2016-2017 school year, some people questioned the necessity of the job. But, both Bregy and Skirde insist that the position is necessary for the school population to be informed.

“Our school district, staff and teachers, we need to be informing each other of what’s going on,” Skirde said. “Our teachers shouldn’t have to look at the local paper to say, ‘Oh, this is what’s going on with my school district.’”

This sentiment was shared by Bregy, who felt that very little information was being shared from the district office itself.

“What I found is that there were a lot of things happening in the district, but the information wasn’t being shared internally,” Bregy said. “There was a massive amount of information being shared externally, but not internally.”

Bregy stands by the position, saying the communication and understanding that the position could provide may help solve some of the issues facing the district.

“Talking to people and learning about the culture and climate, communication is key to the success of any organization,” Bregy said.

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