SB Unified Hires New Public Information Officer

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By the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD)

On Tuesday night, the Board of Trustees approved the appointment of Santa Barbara Unified’s new Public Information Officer, Ed Zuchelli.

Mr. Zuchelli comes to the district from KEYT-TV in Santa Maria, where he has been the Managing Editor since 2018.

Prior to his most recent role, Mr. Zuchelli has been a writer, producer and editor in markets such as San Francisco, Seattle, San Luis Obispo and Sacramento.

Mr. Zuchelli has a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

“I look forward to further connecting with the Santa Barbara Unified community, learning how we can effectively communicate with not only our families and staff, but also the community at large,” Mr. Zuchelli said. “Joining such a dynamic and diverse team at the district is exciting, and I look forward to not only contributing, but also learning from my colleagues.”

Mr. Zuchelli was recently part of the team at KEYT that won a 2022 Emmy Award for Best Broadcast. He has also won two Associated Press Television-Radio Association (APTRA) Mark Twain awards, while also garnering a Radio and Television News Association Socal Golden Mike Award in 2022.

Mr. Zuchelli is also an Eagle Scout.

“We are fortunate to have Mr. Zuchelli join the team, as he brings a wealth of knowledge, not only of communications, but also the Central Coast,” said Dr. Hilda Maldonado, the district’s superintendent. “We are a district on the move and we look forward to Mr. Zuchelli joining our team and sharing how we help shape the lives of future scientists, scholars, artists, athletes and more.”

Mr. Zuchelli will start with the district on October 25.

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Voice of Reason Oct 12, 2022 09:52 AM
SB Unified Hires New Public Information Officer

Another example of all the additional dollars we're pumping into our school system going to administration rather than the students. And people wonder why student results are decreasing while per student spending is increasing. Something needs to change.

salsipuedes Oct 13, 2022 08:44 PM
SB Unified Hires New Public Information Officer

Agreed. Using that "not only...but..." construction twice in two sentences does not inspire much confidence in the writing skills of the person who produced it. That's a pretty hefty salary, so is he a broadcaster who they're turning into a PIO? Or are they planning to use his radio-tv background to produce their own show? (Which would not surprise me a bit, since they're all about shaping the narrative.) And just wondering about Hilda's comment, calling it "a district on the move." I guess that's a reference to all the longtime employees who have left since she's been here? So many unrelated thoughts here, and while it's nice this person is an Eagle Scout, it's hardly a qualification for the job. This district just makes me sad these days.

lovesbalot Oct 13, 2022 08:11 AM
SB Unified Hires New Public Information Officer

This money would do a lot more good if it was being spent getting experienced reading interventionist who understand and use the "science of reading "approach not the failed "balanced literacy" approach currently embraced by the district. Public information officer in the past mostly wrote fluff pieces about the district that in many ways mislead the public into thinking things are OK. One piece that comes to mind was "birth of a reader". Over 50% of the students can't read at grade level and many will not catch up because teachers are still taught in Universities in the failed, balanced literacy approach. Getting the whole district trained in what works will take at least two years, that is why they need to hire outside professionals from this community that have years of experience and can help the current students get proficient. This current group of students were already behind before Covid and we know there is more learning loss. We need to be prudent with how we spend our money and tranparent about our reading crisis. We don't need more feel good fluffy pieces. We need honestly and a plan to cover the urgent needs of the majority of our students. Looking good or sounding good with a public information officer is not helping met the needs of our students who are suffering with no end in sight.

sbdude Oct 13, 2022 10:54 PM
SB Unified Hires New Public Information Officer

I am sure Mr. Zuchelli is a fine guy and will do well, but this hire and his compensation package points to a larger problem, which is the rampant staffing up at the district. It started with Cash, accelerated with Matsuoka, and has really skyrocketed with Hilda. I am sure they are all working hard, but how many of those people really have a positive effect on what goes on in actual classrooms? My guess is, not many.

Alexblue Oct 14, 2022 08:46 AM
SB Unified Hires New Public Information Officer

I'm sorry but the salary here is absolutely ridiculous. Add also that the District is far more interested in managing public perception of their many failings than in providing unbiased information to the public.

There should be a 30% reduction in all upper level administration salaries. These people are insanely overpaid for delivering an inferior product and their default is always to protect their own rather than students.

letmego Oct 14, 2022 09:38 AM
SB Unified Hires New Public Information Officer

Wow, I figure that about $30k of that is probably benefits. But I looked up Camilla Barnwell's total package in 2020, and it was >$40k less than that. Talk about inflation! Or the gender pay gap. Or whatever.

And now the district is going to pay $500,000 for a company to help recruit para educators because we have 60 open positions. Do you know what paras make? Not much. Less than $30k a year. Mind-boggling. You could hire FOUR paras for this guy's pay and benefits. OR you could hire a PIO for what Ms. Barnwell and increase the pay for the existing paras.

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