Shawano schools look at spreading message

Committee looking at boosting image inside, outside district
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Shawano School District wants to be the preeminent choice for parents in the area to send their kids to school, and it also wants to attract students from outside the district boundaries.

To do that, the district needs to boost its image, and a committee consisting of staff, parents and community members has formed to focus on public relations and marketing.

“We’re focusing on Marion, Tigerton, Bonduel and trying to get them to choose us,” said Troy Edwards, Hillcrest Primary School principal and the one spearheading the project, in a report Monday to the Shawano School Board. “We’re also focusing on retention, so we don’t have our Shawano students going to other districts.”

The open enrollment period for Wisconsin schools is currently underway, with public schools contending not only with other public but also private schools to grow their numbers. Edwards said the committee is looking at a variety of methods to encourage families to check out the Shawano schools and learn what they have to offer.

“We’re doing well promoting ‘Living, Learning, Leading the Hawk Way’ in our schools, but we felt we could do a better job out in the community and surrounding communities,” Edwards said. In discussing ways to share this brand, the committee will consider brochures, videos and other multimedia, as well as a future outreach group, he said.

The committee is looking at brochures specifically geared for each school. Edwards noted that parents might be focusing on a specific school for their child’s age and might not be as interested in the other three schools that make up the district.

“We have a wonderful tech ed program at the high school. But for Hillcrest, that doesn’t mean a whole lot,” Edwards said.

Another marketing idea was creating a scavenger hunt that would take interested parties into the schools, finding items within the building during tours and then getting free T-shirts with the school brand for finding all the items.

The district is also looking at a business connection to better inform local employers about what the schools offer; then those businesses, when hiring employees, can inform them about the schools’ offerings, Edwards said.

Subcommittees will be meeting throughout the month, and then the entire committee will meet at the end of the month to gather and organize their ideas, according to Edwards.

Board member Rich Belongia touted the importance of video advertising at sporting events, noting that Seymour and Clintonville schools are already engaged in this type of marketing to entice people to send their children there.

“It’s a huge moneymaker for them,” Belongia said. “I think it should have been done a while ago.”

Board member Beth McFarlane noted that the district needs to project a positive image to counteract the negativity on some Shawano-based Facebook pages.

“Sometimes, we don’t blow our horn enough,” McFarlane said.