Wednesday, September 26, 2018
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Sharyland-LogoAt a workshop for the Sharyland School Board of Trustees, board members discussed the possibility of airing television commercials to promote the school district.

Carolyn Mendiola, an official with the district’s public information department, led a presentation to the school board on Sharyland’s advertising campaign for the 2018-2019 school year at the Monday workshop.

During the presentation, Mendiola showed the board a two-minute commercial and a condensed 30-second commercial created by AIM Media Texas, a McAllen-based communication media company. The commercials, which were made for a total of $2,000 according to Mendiola, were part of a proposal to double the budget of the ad department to include the production of and airing of promotional videos on TV and in movie theaters.

“We haven’t asked for the monies yet because we want to know what direction the board wants to go with this,” Mendiola said. We’re asking, does the board want to start seeing commercials or not.”

The commercials highlighted several programs in the district as well as its new full day Pre-K program and open enrollment, both of which the board approved last spring in an attempt to increase the district’s static enrollment numbers.

According to a recent budget presentation from the district, Sharyland’s Average Daily Attendance is projected to hit 9,650 students in the upcoming school year. This would be a one percent increase from the last two school years, which saw an ADA of 9,542 students for those two years.

In the last decade, Sharyland hit a high of 9,725 students during the 2013-2014 school year, but enrollment has been declining since then, according to the budget presentation.

Currently, the budget for the district’s advertising campaign is $58,000 with nearly $40,000 being spent on billboards and the rest between print advertisement and the district’s social media campaign.

If the district were to add creating and airing commercials and other promotional videos to the budget, it would grow to $125,000 Mendiola said.

The $61,000 that would be spent on the promotional videos include airing them in a three-month period in the morning show slots which typically air between 6 a.m. through 10 a.m. on the weekdays.

“This is the low end cost,” Mendiola explained. “If we were going to air the commercials during prime time or during the 10 o’clock news like most local school districts, it’d be more expensive.”

The board questioned the need for commercials to promote the district.

Trustee Ricky Longoria asked the ratings from the Texas Education Agency-which recently awarded Sharyland with a straight A rating as part of their new A-F accountability rating-wasn’t enough to promote the district.

“That’s why we wanted to bring it to you all, do we want to advertise things like open enrollment, full day pre-k on TV or are we satisfied with billboards getting the word out,” Mendiola replied.

Based on the reaction from the board, Mendiola said after the meeting the board may discuss doing commercials again once final enrollment figures for the new school year arrive.

School board President Melissa Smith said that while she’s unsure of the need for commercials to advertise the district, she agrees that Sharyland needs to find a way to better promote itself to the community.

“We need to let everyone in the community know how strong we are and what we’re doing but I’m not necessarily sold on spending a bunch of money on television ads,” Smith said. “Social media is where it’s at and we have a responsibility to be fiscally conservative so we will be fiscally conservative in that area.”