NAMPA — To promote choice within the district and improve communication with patrons, leaders of the Nampa School District have adopted a multi-faceted outreach and marketing campaign.
Superintendent David Peterson initiated many of the moves since his hiring two years ago.
Some of the outreach and marketing efforts are designed to offset projected enrollment decreases of up to 330 students related to the opening of a new charter school and the expansion of another within district boundaries.
Others are designed to connect with taxpayers who don’t have children attending schools and have become detached from their local schools.
Still others — such as online community surveys — directly shape the school board’s policies.
“We’re competing for kids and we’re competing to get the best teachers,” Peterson said. “Nampa had become very isolated, and we are now fully engaged in the larger community.”
The programs include Chose Nampa, which promotes open enrollment within the district. Through that effort, the district encourages parents to send their children to the elementary school of their choice — not just the school in the neighborhood.
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District leaders also are promoting Join Nampa, which features positive video testimonials from Nampa teachers that are designed to lure top educators to job openings in Nampa.
Nampa administrators and trustees are also in the process of updating their school logo, and have contracted with the Nampa-based marketing firm Peppershock Media. The marketing agency is charged with designing a potential new logo and launching a branding campaign complete with stationary, PowerPoint and social media templates.
Late last year, Nampa Director of Finance Randy Dewey signed a branding and logo contact with Peppershock for an amount not to exceed $25,000.
So far, Peppershock produced three sample logos, which district employees shared with residents in an online survey. So far none of the ideas made the cut, but district spokeswoman Allison Westfall said new logo options could be unveiled in early July.
“We’re hoping (to have it ready) for the start of school, but we want to make sure we get it right,” Westfall said.
Not all taxpayers love the idea of contracting with a marketing company. After the logo surveys were unveiled, the district received complaints and questions about why scarce education dollars were being rolled into a marketing campaign.
Westfall responded to one angry local business owner by discussing her own experiences as a parent. She said many families within the district aren’t aware that open enrollment is an option — but would take advantage of the flexibility if the district got the word out.
“It’s important for the public to be informed and for parents to be informed,” Westfall said.
So far, the word is starting to get out. District officials have approved 123 open enrollment applications at the elementary level for the upcoming school year.
“We are not doing this for fun,” Peterson said. “We are doing this to shape policy and to shape the direction we are going and leadership’s thinking.”
Nampa isn’t alone among Idaho school districts looking to rebrand themselves or advertise for open enrollment.
Two years ago, the West Ada School District changed its name from Meridian Joint School District No. 2 — updating its logo, signs and letterhead in the process.
During the Great Recession, leaders of the Middleton School District took out ads promoting open enrollment and highlighting the district’s facilities. Retiring Superintendent Rich Bauscher said the marketing campaign was a smart investment that more than offset declines in enrollment and attendance that could have threatened to reduce state funding levels.
In the end, Westfall and Peterson say Nampa’s marketing and outreach efforts are valuable and necessary tools to help the district connect with the community and improve the district’s reputation.
“If you’re truly going to represent the community, then you really need good information about what the community would like its schools to be, the direction they would like schools to go and a general sense of the opportunities to improve,” Peterson said.
Parents seeking information about open enrollment at the elementary school level for the upcoming school year may send an email to Brenda Mattson or call her at 468-4601, ext. 1080.