The Lafayette Parish School System is ramping up marketing efforts to regain students who have left its classrooms for other options and to entice new families who have never enrolled.
On Sunday, one-page fliers that advertise the school system’s academic, arts and athletic programs will be included in The Acadiana Advocate and The Daily Advertiser newspapers.
It’s time to actively compete, said Sandra Billeaudeau, Lafayette school district planning coordinator.
“We’re in business,” Billeaudeau said. “We’re in competition with charters. We’re in competition with parochial and private schools. Kids don’t have to come to our schools. There are choices now: virtual schools, charter schools, private schools. Parents have options. I want them to opt for us. We offer a quality education, and we offer so many unique opportunities.”
The marketing campaign seeks to educate the community about the programs available to students in Lafayette Parish schools, said Superintendent Donald Aguillard, who has touted the need to market the school system and compete for students. The marketing campaign is the first step, he said Tuesday.
“It’s a competitive landscape today,” Aguillard said. “It is about rebranding the Lafayette Parish School System. We want to be the school district choice for kids.”
It’s also about boosting enrollment and the school system’s revenues. More students equates to more per-student funding from the state’s Minimum Foundation Program, Aguillard said.
With the opening of three new charter schools in the parish, Lafayette Parish parents have more options in choosing schools for their children.
Combined, the three charter schools enrolled more than 1,600 students last school year and have waiting lists for the upcoming school year. The schools’ applications to operate in Lafayette Parish were denied by the Lafayette Parish School Board, so they received authorization from the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which enables them to enroll students from anywhere in the state. The majority of the schools’ students, however, are from Lafayette Parish.
The parish school system currently enrolls about 30,000 students, who can apply for a chance to attend specialized learning academies programs through its schools-of-choice options.
The academies offer disciplines in the sciences, arts, information technology, health careers, foreign language immersion, legal studies and broadcast journalism.
The advertisement also boasts the school system’s Early College Academy, which enables students to earn an associate’s degree at South Louisiana Community College in tandem with their high school diploma. Students attend school at SLCC. Newsweek magazine in September 2014 recognized ECA as one of the top 500 high schools in the country.
The flier also announces the school system’s expansion of its virtual school — eCampus, which previously offered part-time and full-time learning options to middle school and high school students. Starting in August, the eCampus Academy will offer online courses to students in grades kindergarten through 12.
The expansion of online learning is another way for the school system to recapture former students and recruit new ones, Aguillard said.
A major push will be made to recruit home-schooled students to the virtual academy, he added.
Aguillard said the school system budgeted $2,500 for the marketing campaign.
“It’s a very cost-effective way to get our message out,” he said.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.