Joe Lafferty wears his pride for on his sleeve and he looks forward to telling people exactly why he thinks the district deserves the chance to educate the area's children.
Lafferty gave a presentation during Wednesday’s school board meeting outlining how and why the district could and should market itself to parents of potential students.
With charter schools opening in many school districts across Pennsylvania, competition between public and private schools are in a new realm of consumerism. More and more school districts, like McKeesport, now advertise within their communities.
Woodland Hills budgeted $25,000 to be used for marketing, and Lafferty, who is a football coach in the district and a 1990 graduate, is tasked with coming up with ways to utilize the money as efficiently and creatively as possible.
Lafferty is a marketing businessman who is serving the district as an unpaid special assistant to the superintendent for community relations, he said.
With two cable TV channels on Comcast, Lafferty said there’s a great opportunity to brag about the district and change the minds of parents who are considering moving their children to a private school.
He said he’d like to see the two cable channels run more like commercial channels that include regular programing and commercials touting the district. He envisions three-minute vignettes featuring successful alumni that would not only inspire parents, but students in the district.
“We’ve been around 25 years now so we have some great stories,” he said.
Students most likely will be involved with productions, giving them chances to gain practical world experience in broadcasting.
Lafferty's plan also includes billboards advertising in the district, as well as web ads. The message he’s imagining is: “Woodland Hills Where Diversity Works,” focusing on its diverse citizens and diverse curriculum.
Board member Robert Tomasic suggested Lafferty push school safety hard when devising marketing strategies. The dozen or so parents he talked with who moved their children out of the district, all said it was because of their concerns with school and bus safety, he said.
The board asked Lafferty to return next month and present some examples of the kinds of advertising and video vignettes, as well as a cost sheet.
“I think it can be very powerful,” he said.
The school board acted on the following items at Wednesday’s regular school board meeting:
- Approved disposing of a large cache of old and outdated text and library reference books that are being stored at Rankin Promise School. The district will first try to sell the books. If buyers can’t be found, the district will try to donate them to organizations in need. All money made will go to district libraries.
- Approved for senior members of the high school’s music department to make a trip to New York City Jan 18-21. The trip will cost $600 per student and chaperone, and includes two Broadway shows and a trip to Ellis Island, among other sightseeing. The district is not responsible for the costs.
- The board accepted an energy study conducted by Foreman Architecture that was needed in order to continue with renovation plans to the high school. State law requires an energy study to be conducted on all the school district’s buildings even if only one building is being renovated or constructed.
Energy efficiency varied wildly from one building to the next. The least energy efficient two buildings were the academy and junior high. The best two were Fairless and the high school, with the remainder of the buildings rating about the same.