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If marketing is the secret to success, one local school district is taking that idea to a whole new level.
Jackson-Milton recently became the first public school system to purchase advertising time on local TV stations to promote open enrollment in order to boost its bottom line.
“We’ve lost $1.8 million with the tangible personal property taxes over the next four years,” said Jackson-Milton Superintendent Kirk Baker. “So, we need to be creative and think outside the box and how to also generate some money too.”
Currently, the district has about 870 students and has offered open enrollment the past 10 years. The Board of Education agreed to spend about $5,700 on the ads, roughly the same amount one new student would bring to the district in state funding if he or she joined the school system.
“We do have students that come from Youngstown and neighboring districts also. It wasn’t to target any particular area,” said Baker.
Jackson-Milton isn’t the only district trying to promote itself. Austintown turned to open enrollment in 2008 after losing close to $9 million in state funding because of students transferring to charter and parochial schools. Superintendent Vince Colaluca said he’d rather avoid going after students in other public systems.
“As public school entities, we need to stick together,” said Colaluca. “There’s no question that the legislators have pitted us against charter schools, that’s the way it is. We feel we need to stick together as public schools.”
Baker sees the ads as fair game, saying that most surrounding districts offer open enrollment and everyone has a choice.
The new ads tout the district’s relatively new junior-senior high school facility as well as its state-of-the-art equipment. The superintendent said the spots will run through the month of May, but he’s already starting to get phone calls from parents asking about the district.