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Grant County schools manage marketing

BY Samantha Oyler - soyler@chronicle-tribune.com

Education laws in the state have made schools more conscious of their marketing strategies as they compete to attract students.

Under the former voluntary enrollment program, Indiana school corporations could set their own policies on which students they would accept. This included setting standards based on test scores and disciplinary records.

In 2013, House Bill 1381 was passed, which created formal guidelines for transferring students.

These guidelines state that no school district can deny a transfer request unless it’s based on the school’s capacity or if a student has been suspended or expelled preceding the transfer.

That, combined with the fact that a portion of a school’s funding is attached to the number of students enrolled, creates competition between neighborhing school corporations, school officials say. 

In order to get more students, school corporations have started evaluating their own marketing and advertising strategies.

Madison-Grant United School Corporation (MGUSC) has put an emphasis on how its markets itself in order to create better connections with the community and possibly draw in more students.

Members of MGUSC’s school board recently heard a marketing presentation about how people perceive the corporation and how to improve relations with students and parents.

According to the presentation, guardians want better ways to get in contact with teachers, staff and administrators.

Marion Community Schools communications director Patricia Gibson said while the school doesn’t have any formal way of evaluating its marketing strategies, the district puts prioritizes communicating with the community.

She said open enrollment programs have changed the dynamics of how schools operate.

“Just because you lose a few students doesn’t mean your utility bill is any cheaper,” Gibson said.

She said although there is a sense of competition, there’s also an understanding among the various districts that the main focus is to provide the best possible education to students.

Other school districts, like Eastbrook Community Schools and Oak Hill United School Corporation, focus less on marketing.

Eastbrook Superintendent Brett Garrett said the district conducts surveys every few years to make sure it remains in good standing with the community, but he hopes it might become more of an annual effort.

‘It’s important to get as many boys and girls as we can, but there are some good schools in Grant County. … We just try to put our best foot forward,” he said.

According to Oak Hill Superintendent Joel Martin, Oak Hill does not have a formal marketing focus.