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Competition for Valley students heating up

PHOENIX — Competition to get your child in the classroom is fierce. More kids in the classroom means more money for the school districts.

Craig Pletenik, a spokesman with Phoenix Union High School District said, “Every school’s funding is based on enrollment. A student generates $5k for a school district. You know that’s money that’s going to support school programs, it’s going to support teachers.”

Pletenik said charter schools have larger advertising budgets that allow them to advertise to kids through sophisticated ad campaigns, but public schools can’t afford that luxury.

“As much as you’d like to hope you can advertise on the televison, radio and in theaters and every other way, it’s really person-to-person and word of mouth,” said Pletenik.

Districts even lean on existing students in making the pitch to attract new ones.

“We try to get our kids out to the elementary schools so that they can relate to the kids so they can say ‘That guy’s got a uniform, he’s in Junior ROTC. That kid’s on the football team. I’d like to play on that team,’ ” said Pletenik.

Pletenik said kids face more decisions about their education than in years past and it’s important they make informed choices.

“There are a lot of decisions that kids can make when they become 14 years old. That’s one of the reasons we’ve tried to market to sixth- seventh- and eighth- graders.”

With open enrollment a child can choose a specific sports team, take a cooking class, or even learn how to fly an airplane.