Local school districts say they're using advertising to recruit students, spread good news

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Driving around the metro area you're bound to see a billboard or two advertising your local school district.{} Many schools say it's necessary in the effort to recruit students.

Most school districts in the Little Rock metro area have advertising budgets, but many of those districts find themselves in financial distress.{}

Pulaski County Special Schools' biggest advertisement is on a billboard on the westbound side of the Interstate 30 river bridge.{} At a cost of $1,000 for making the billboard and $1,000 a month for rental of the billboard space, Deb Roush, PCSSD spokesperson said advertising makes complete sense even if they only recruit one child from the billboard advertisement.

"If they end up in our school, well that billboard has paid for itself five times over," said Deb Roush, spokesperson for PCSSD.{} "The state pays us $6,000 for every student that comes into our district."

That's money Roush said that can be spent further improving local public schools.{}

Most marketing dollars are spent advertising in local publications like the Arkansas Times or Little Rock Family, leave behind magazines.

"Something like the 'native's guide' where it's going to last for a while, people are going to hang onto this for a while," said Roush.

PCSSD allocates roughly $100,000 a year for advertising, of which only about $80,000 is spent according to Roush.{} Pamela Smith, Little Rock Schools spokesperson, said LRSD spends roughly $145,000 a year on advertising the district.{} Much of it, said Smith, is a race against the growing list of private and charter schools in the county.

"We are in a competitive society where parents and students have options," said Smith.{} "We want to remind them that we are a viable option."

And advertising is often battling what may sometimes be negative press - showing what good comes out of local public schools.

"This is one of the ways that we are able to promote our messages and to make sure that people hear directly from us," said Smith.

The majority of the advertising both LRSD and PCSSD do however is done by utilizing social media.{} Both districts have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, websites and TV stations in the case of LRSD - all of which are free for them to use.

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