Declining school enrollment is affecting districts nationwide. How is your school district faring? Read on to discover four action plans you can take today to boost student enrollment.
Total public school enrollment in pre-K through 12th grade fell 3% between fall 2019 and fall 2020, from 50.8 million to 49.4 million students, reverting back to 2009 enrollment figures and erasing “a decade of steady growth,” according to The Condition of Education 2022 report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
“This was the largest single-year decline in total public school enrollment since 1943,” the report said. And the troubling trend is expected to continue, mainly due to expected declines in the number of school-aged children. Between 2020 and 2030, total public school enrollment is estimated to drop by another 4%, from 49.4 million to 47.3 million students.
Now, more than ever, school districts are looking for ways to improve student enrollment. Discover how you can equip and empower your district to stand out from the rest to attract and retain enrollment during these challenging times.
1) Do your homework
First things first, do your homework. To attract families and engage students, you need to first understand your school district and its unique strengths, then your target audience and student body.
Surveys and interviews
There are several ways to achieve this. If you don’t already, institute annual surveys of staff, faculty, families, and students at the end of each school year. This will help you gather key insights from every perspective that you can utilize to speak to your district’s strengths.
Exit interviews are another way to recruit valuable input. Keep surveys and interviews confidential to invite honest feedback from all stakeholders who can help paint a clearer picture of the schools that make up your district.
Next, take a look at your enrollment numbers over the years and see if there is a pattern or notable data that can help you understand what you did well in those years school enrollment went up or why it dropped during some periods.
A comprehensive market analysis of comparable districts to evaluate your standing in comparison with competitors is another essential tool for better understanding your district’s strengths and weaknesses, so you can magnify the first and improve upon the latter.
2) Invest in what matters
To attract students to your schools, you want to think like a parent since they are often the decision-makers of the family. And, as you might imagine, the absolute number one priority for every parent when considering schools for their children is the quality of education. But rather than simply tell them your district offers high-quality education, show them.
Demonstrate a proven track record of high test scores and overall academic success. Prioritizing and investing in academia to ensure your district offers a top-of-the-line curriculum taught by the best faculty is the choice way to spend your district dollars because that is an investment that will not only pay for itself but continuously net you a high return.
Hopefully, by now, your district has moved away from paper copies and filing cabinets. But if you haven’t already, it’s time to sign up for automated K-12 enrollment services to ensure a seamless and streamlined process that makes it easy for people who want to enroll in your schools to do so.
At a time when student data privacy is more scrutinized than ever, a trusted enrollment management system like Scribbles Software goes a long way toward easing parents’ concerns. ScribEnroll is not only mobile-friendly, but it also provides translations in 109 languages, making online enrollment easier than ever.
3) Promote your presence
Now that you’ve built and supplemented the building blocks of a great school district to raise enrollment, it’s time to show off. To market your district, you want to make sure your district is active online, on social media, and in your local community. The goal is to showcase talent and celebrate success.
Marketing these days goes beyond just creating a social media account. The purpose of those accounts is to be a platform where you can tell your district’s story.
This is where those annual surveys and exit interviews you hopefully conducted will come in handy, as you can use that material to talk about what your district does really well and what you’re working on next. The ideas are many: a regular newsletter that goes out to families and the community, or a blog that offers informative content and maximizes SEO-rich articles to boost visibility.
A public relations team to network with your local media is a key resource. Reach out to your local newspaper and TV stations to make your pitch, whether it’s a new program or the district’s latest achievements.
If your school ranks in roundups of best school systems or organizations, like the U.S. News Best High Schools list, you have the added benefit of attracting national media attention, gaining national recognition, and branding your district as a household name.
4) Connect with community
Cultivating a local presence within your district is fundamental to connecting with your community. This means school presence at parades and festivals, a stand at the farmer’s market, volunteering at the food bank, or whatever makes sense where you’re located. This will establish a strong relationship with the people your school serves and elevate your district’s brand.
Word of mouth
The more your schools invest in and connect with parents, the more these families will spread positive word-of-mouth about your district. They can actually become your best marketing tools since they are walking, talking advertisements for your schools.
School events where the public is invited are a win-win for the community as a whole. For companies, give them an opportunity to partner with your district to fund or endow a new program or bench, so they get well-deserved recognition, and the district gains a community partner.
For secondary students, community service awards and volunteer programs are enriching activities to add to their resumes and college applications. For parents, it means their children are spending their time productively and building their future.
Streamline enrollment and engage families
Whether you’re working on growing enrollment for your school district or looking to revamp your records processing and document management as well, Scribbles Software provides the technology your district needs for the entire K-12 student lifecycle system. Request a quote today.
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