Castaic Union School District retains professional photographer

Castaic Union School District Building. Dan Watson/The Signal

In order to help them compete in an educational landscape that allows families to decide which school district to attend, Castaic Union School District’s governing board OK’ed the hiring of an independent contractor for photography services to boost the profile of the district’s special events.

In a unanimous vote from all five board members Thursday night, the board decided to hire Jaimie Lyn Mickalson Photography for the cost of $450 per event, and not to exceed $2,250 a month. The contract is for a period between Aug. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2019.

The district is seeing a decline in enrollment, the benchmark for almost all state funding, which is being felt by public school districts across the state, according to officials. For Castaic, in 2016-17 there was a total of 2,234 TK-6th grade students in the district, 2,153 total students in 2017-18 and as of March 2019 there were 2,037 total students, according to the California Department of Education.

These trends are expected to continue downward until new housing developments come in over the next decade, bringing new families to the district, according to officials. And in the meantime, the district needs to be able to showcase what a four-school district and preschool can offer families.

“It’s become very competitive,” said CUSD Board President Stacy Dobbs. “But between the public schools, public charter schools and private schools — and there’s a lot of all those in this area — everyone is competing for the same students.”

The photography services are to include: shooting time, organization, editing, retouching, personalized password protected gallery of all images and travel to and from events. All images will become the property of CUSD to be used in marketing campaigns and on social media.

At the beginning of every month, Dobbs said, the photographer will meet with Charmin Ortega, CUSD’s executive assistant to the superintendent, and discuss which events need pictures and which ones don’t, Dobbs said.

“It’s impossible for the limited staff we have to be at all the events, make sure we’re taking pictures that look good,” said Dobbs. “We’re going to try it out for a few months until we decide what we want to do overall with our marketing.”

The district currently does not have a part of its budget set aside for a marketing department or hiring a marketing firm, like other districts in Santa Clarita, Dobbs said.

“We’re trying to sell the brand,” said Dobbs. “In the future, once we have our brand and message solidified with exactly what we want to say, than we may expand our marketing department.”

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