Today, the Dayton Daily News decided to deride the Dayton Public Schools for their “ad splurge” (Page 1, lead story- “Schools defend ad splurge”- Scott Elliott). While half a million dollars over three years is hardly a huge buy, before Daytonians get their panties in a twist, this is what happens when you turn education over to free market economics.
Colleges and Universities have advertised for students for years- and the for-profit career schools spend considerably more. When you stop giving the public schools a monopoly- advertising isn’t optional, it’s a requirement, especially when you dole out State money on a per student basis.
While the Dayton Daily News stood pretty much mute while the School Board purchased the former Reynolds and Reynolds headquarters building- without an appraisal or an operating cost evaluation, they are quick to jump on this measly expenditure.
In fact, not advertising for “Count week” would have been a really stupid move. Typically attendance runs 93.39% - by spending $58,000 on advertising and their in-school reward efforts- they got attendance to 96% a 2.61% improvement- with 16,500 students this means they had an extra 430 students in their census- when you multiply that times the State per pupil reimbursement of somewhere around $5000 the Dayton Public Schools gained about 2.1 MILLION dollars in annual funding!
I’d say that expense is justified.
In fact, the true issue isn’t the ad budget- it’s the quality of the ads that are the main problem. The Dayton Public School brand is still a brand in distress. Instead of clearly communicating the progress that has been made in the last 4 years under Superintendent Percy Mack, they are still trying to use the weak transitional campaign “a new day is dawning” which almost begs to ask- when will we get to lunch?
If there is any doubt that the brand message hasn’t done the job, why else would Donice Gatliff from the “Kid’s First” School Board team have lost her seat in the last election? Voters don’t believe the Dayton Public Schools have any success stories over the last 4 years.
As a bit of full disclosure, we’ve tried to talk to the Dayton Public Schools about their campaign, and even went as far as to do a spec ad to show the difference a good campaign would make. Here is what they ran “Don’t be late, School starts August 8”
Don’t be late.

Compare that to: “I can’t wait, school starts Aug. 8” with a focus on the positive story of the Stivers Jazz band that won first in the country last year.

I can’t wait

Note- you can click on either for a larger view. I Can’t Wait- is only a comp- we used stock photos- it is for concept only.

What do you think?