Recruiting Students in a Small District

The Challenge

A school district with a small number of students spread over a large, semi-rural area faced a steady decline in enrollment over the past decade, competing for students against private school options on the one hand and homeschool on the other. With its financial base eroding, it was forced to make hard decisions about what resources to cut back.

The Goal: Recruit and Reclaim

Our campaign efforts focused on two main tactics: recruitment of new students and reclaiming students who had left.

We set a goal to recruit 150 new students and reclaim 50 students throughout a four-month period.

The Work

Caissa began a discovery phase with the school district by identifying the catalysts to falling enrollment. We met with school district administrators and teachers to collect historical data and gather their opinions. We also used phone polls and email surveys of roughly 300 parents, some of whom had multiple students educated in the district over a number of years, to determine their views of both its strengths and potential improvements.

The findings we presented to the district presented a mix of routine issues, as well as more novel challenges.

To address competition with private schools by highlighting the quality of education the district provided, we helped the district communicate more effectively with parents and families by increasing their presence and improving visuals and content quality on social media, posting book lists and curriculum syllabi on school websites, distributing weekly email blasts for district updates, and setting up booths at local events and fairs. Noting that most private schools offered tours to prospective students and their parents, we also worked with the district to create open house tours and paired new students with peer leaders in the school through a “shadow” program.

Competition with homeschooling was more complicated. More than once, parents explained they chose to homeschool due to the large distance away from their zoned school. Because of patchy transportation links, further stress was added to their schedules by having to drive their children to and from school as well as after-school activities. In the second month of the campaign, we helped the district implement improved transportation links by using a new school bus company, and then raised awareness of the change through targeted social media posts.

Our Results

Caissa recruited approximately 250 new students (60% over goal) and reclaimed more than 100 students (close to 50% over goal) within the four-month period.

Having realized these numbers, the school district was able to increase its budget by recruiting additional support staff like teaching assistants, paraeducators and a new guidance counselor at the high school level.

If you are interested in learning more about Caissa’s recruitment and reclamation campaigns or other services, please contact us here.

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