Duval School District Launches New Marketing Campaign To Attract More Students

Sep 9, 2014

The number of students enrolled in Duval County Public Schools has fallen in recent years, with more families opting for a growing number of charter schools, according to district data. A new aggressive marketing campaign is aiming to change that.

"Public Education Strong." That’s the new theme for Duval County Public School’s campaign to boost enrollment and confidence in neighborhood schools.

Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti
Credit Duval County Public Schools

The district’s marketing team unveiled the new plan before school board members Tuesday with the debut of a promotional video featuring local teachers and administrators in district’s public schools.

“We’re going to use this to capture the hidden realities of public education for Duval,” said Marsha Oliver, Assistant Superintendent of Communications.  

It replaces the “My school. My story. My way” campaign launched last January, which highlighted student success stories in the district.

The new campaign, set to launch later this month, builds on that theme, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said.

“We’re sending a new message of who we are, who we want to be, and what we strive to work at everyday,” he said.
 
The new strategy places greater emphasis on high-tech and media savvy strategies from hashtags and podcasts, to appointed “campaign ambassadors” who actively promote public education throughout their communities.

“Whether they’re a parent, an educator, an administrator, a member of the community, those are the campaign ambassadors we want to highlight,” Duval Schools Marketing Director Mark Sherwood told the board.

The revamped strategy is estimated to cost about $360,000. However, Oliver said some of the money to fund it will likely come from grants and private sources.

The more aggressive campaign seeks to combat the ever-increasing number of charter schools in the district, officials said.

According to the district, about 115,000 students enrolled in the district's traditional public schools at the start of the 2014-15 school year. That’s on par with the numbers from the same time last year, according to Vitti. However, those numbers will not be finalized until October and are likely to go up, according to district officials. Last year's final total came to about 117,000. 

Meanwhile, the district reports enrollment in charter schools is up this year. It accounts for nearly 9 percent of students in the district this year, compared to 7 percent last year and 5.1 percent in 2012-13.

The new strategy to bring students back into traditional public schools draws from a series of marketing and Gallup poll surveys of the community conducted over the spring.

A climate survey found that about 56 percent of parents graded the district as an A or B, while about 83 percent ranked the schools within their district an A or B. In communication, the district ranked high on “staying in touch” with stakeholders, scoring a 4.18 out of 5. However, participants ranked the district lower when asked about receiving information to support learning at home (3.77) and about the district’s branding (2.97).

The strategy ahead includes a continued focus on middle schools where enrollment lags most. It encourages schools to develop and promote their own themes. It also includes a plan to categorize schools into tiers based on their enrollment and public perception.

The plan is expected to go before the board for approval next month.

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.