Dayton Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli

Dayton schools’ $500K ad blitz aims to boost enrollment, attendance

Dayton Public Schools hopes a two-year, $537,000 advertising campaign will boost the district’s enrollment and attendance numbers, Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said Tuesday.

Lolli told school board members the campaign by the Ohlmann Group will include everything from billboards and RTA bus ads to radio spots and direct mail. The budget plan estimates $250,000 in spending this school year and $287,000 next year.

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“We want the word to get out to everyone that Dayton Public Schools are changing for the better, and we want them to understand the changes that are happening,” Lolli said. “Our parents need to have their students in school every day. Students need to know that school matters, and we want everyone to be there.”

The hundreds of proposed radio ads, totaling $107,000 are the largest expense in the $250,000 campaign for this school year, with billboards ($32,000) and direct mail ($27,000) next highest.

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The plan also includes newspaper and website ads, social media spots on Facebook and Snapchat targeting moms with kids, and ads on the music platforms Pandora and Spotify. RTA bus ads will feature information specifically about the schools buses are traveling near.

“We want to make sure the message is clear, consistent and ongoing in a variety of places,” Lolli said.

DPS’ enrollment has stabilized somewhat this decade, hovering between 12,000 and 14,000, after falling by tens of thousands in the previous few decades as families moved out of Dayton and remaining parents chose charter and Catholic schools. The district is battling significant bad publicity after sports scandals led to state probation, and very bad state report cards created the threat of state takeover.

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There are good things as well, from the purchase of new buses and textbooks, to the strengthening of career tech offerings and the revival of school music programs.

“There are wonderful things that happen every day in the Dayton Public Schools, and we want to get that word out there and change the narrative,” Lolli said.

Tuesday’s school board meeting was a review session. The board reserves most formal votes for the monthly business meeting, which this month is on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

The personnel section of the agenda includes the resignation of Dayton Public Schools’ internal legal counsel, Jyllian Bradshaw, effective Nov. 2. Lolli said the district has put out a “request for qualifications” to local law firms, as DPS hopes to contract with a firm to handle its legal needs, rather than hire another in-house attorney.

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