“When I first started in education, marketing wasn’t something you even had to do,” said Suzanne Kirby, principal of MPS’ Bell Middle School. Now the south side school has a more strategic effort in place. Kirby cleared her schedule for the summer and invited any prospective family in for a personal tour of the school. She’s also designated the school’s orchestra director “marketing guy” and has given him some time off in his schedule to visit feeder elementary schools.
Bell teacher ElHadji Ndaw says such efforts are important because “if you have fewer students, you have fewer teachers,” and the quality of your programs can deteriorate since so much of school’s funding is tied to the number of students.
Then, “if you get down below 300 students,” he adds, “they think about closing you.”
There are different perspectives on this issue, as Marcia Gevelinger Bastian noted last fall:
Many of us believe that all students and families are valuable to the district and that we should actively work to meet all needs and consider all input. When a family who supports and contributes to a school chooses to leave, that seems so sad. I was hoping that representatives of the district may feel the same way. As for me, I was told “West is not in competition for your children”. Ouch!! I suspect that many in the district do not agree with the spirit of that statement.