Catholic schools polishing image
Marketing campaign aims to boost enrollment
ALBANY The schools of the Roman Catholic Diocese are reaching to a higher power to boost enrollment.
Its “Higher Powered Learning” marketing campaign kicked off last week with the goal of telling people about the quality of their academics and overall program. Some people are unaware of what Catholic education can offer, according to Sister Jane Herb, superintendent for the diocese.
“Our schools have a very strong academic program and we provide a safe and secure environment for our students and we do that in a faith-filled tradition,” she said.
This initiative came out of the diocese’s “Covenant to Educate” — released last October to stem the decline in the number of students. The diocese has lost about 1,800 students in the last five years and enrollment for the 2011-2012 school year is down about 150 students to just under 5,000, according to Herb, although the numbers are still being collected. She attributed the decrease to the poor economy. Some families decide they cannot afford the tuition, which averages about $3,500 for elementary students and $6,200 for high school students, according to Herb. Schools work with families to provide financial assistance.
Catholic school officials have said the cost to educate students has increased over the years as there are more lay teachers instead of nuns teaching classes.
“It’s still way below the average cost per pupil for public schools,” Herb said.
Teachers are paid less than public schools and the administration is lean, according to Herb. “We’re really able to put the money back into educating the children.”
During the course of the campaign, diocesan officials talked to not just Catholic school supporters but also other educators to get their views about Catholic education. What came out of those interviews, Herb said, was that many people were not aware of what Catholic schools have to offer.
“They didn’t know about the strength of the academic program, the quality of our teachers,” she said.
Bishop Howard Hubbard said Catholic schools have a great story to tell.
“More than 94 percent of our Catholic high school students graduate with a Regents diploma, and the same number go on to higher education,” he said in a press release. “Our schools deliver these results by putting the latest technology and highly committed teachers within students’ reach. And it’s within parents’ reach to make this happen for their children.”
In addition, almost three-quarters of the elementary school students meet or exceed the state learning standards, according to Herb.
The campaign includes paid media advertising and a website at www.higherpoweredlearning.org. Herb could not put an exact cost on the campaign because she said it is a work in progress.
Other parts of the Covenant to Educate include enhancing the curriculum, building collaborations between schools and strengthening the relationship between schools and churches on the grounds that strong churches will make strong schools and vice versa.