As Detroit Public Schools pushes a new back-to-school marketing plan to try to reverse its enrollment and budget decline, the district must try to draw back kids from dozens of districts and nearly every charter school in the tri-county region.
A majority of children who live in the city do not attend DPS — the district enrolled only 42% of Detroit children in fall 2012 compared with 83% a decade earlier.
So where is everybody going?
One out of three children who attend school in Ferndale lives in Detroit. River Rouge also gets a third of its students from Detroit. Nearly half of the children in the Oak Park School District live in Detroit. Overall, about 73 school districts attract more than 18,000 Detroit students while charter schools enroll about 50,000 Detroiters.
The competition for students has heated up in the past decade with Detroit parents enrolling in suburban districts that offer school choice programs while more charter schools offer more options.
The DPS general “I'm In” advertising campaign is taking a backseat to a new strategy of marketing each individual school to neighbors and parents. Principals, teachers, parents and students are walking door-to-door citywide to talk up their schools. If DPS can’t attract or retain 5,000 kids this fall to maintain enrollment at about 50,000 students, the schools will suffer teacher layoffs midyear.