Kristi Fuerst, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist with Van Wert City Schools, recently presented on information gathered from a survey to find out more about why parents who live in the district open enroll their children to other schools. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Kristi Fuerst, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist with Van Wert City Schools, recently presented on information gathered from a survey to find out more about why parents who live in the district open enroll their children to other schools. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – Van Wert City Schools recently conducted a survey which looked at students who live in the district and open enroll to other schools. Of 228 families consisting of 380 students, 60 connections were made.

The survey showed that over 20 students per grade open enroll into other schools with 39 fourth graders and 39 seventh graders being the highest groups to leave the district for other schools. The lowest amount of students to open enroll out of Van Wert City Schools was kindergartners at 23 students.

Kristi Fuerst, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist with Van Wert City Schools, said the survey was conducted after first-year VWCS Superintendent Vicki Brunn came aboard and noticed that there are more students open enrolling out of the district than were coming in. She wanted to find out why.

“She wanted to find out why and if there was anything we could do to change that and bring kids back,” said Fuerst. “And if not, that’s fine too, but she wanted to find out the ‘why’ behind that high number.”

The survey also looked at where the students were going. Over half, at 214 were open enrolling to Lincolnview, while 109 were going to Crestview. Of the remaining students, 42 are open enrolled to Parkway, 10 to Wayne Trace, two to Spencerville, and one each at Delphos, Paulding, and Fremont City.

The survey asked parents why they chose to open enroll their child into another district. The biggest reason given was because the parent was an alumni of the district they enrolled their child into.

With Lincolnview’s building being so close to Van Wert’s building, Fuerst found that Lincolnview had a lot of students open enrolling from the Van Wert district because of location, which was the second biggest reason given for why students were leaving.

Other reasons included employment or convenience meaning that the parent is an employee of the school their child attends, legal reasons, academics, perception, athletics, and because the parent or student had a negative experience with Van Wert City Schools.

“I think it was really good to reflect on the district, and truly, most of the feedback we got from people was not negative about Van Wert City Schools,” said Fuerst. “It was reassuring to hear that there was not anything we were doing wrong necessarily – granted there was a few isolated cases that the parent or the student had a bad experience, but a lot of the feedback we did get was positive.”

“For me personally, it made me realize that there are some misconceptions about our district that we need to correct,” she continued. “It gives me a little direction in terms of what I need to be marketing and the messages we are putting out.”

One of the biggest misconceptions those surveyed had about VWSC was that it was a “big school” and that their student might get lost in the swarm of other students. However, Fuerst said that because the school is a bit bigger, they are able to employ more teachers, making the student to teacher ratio smaller.

“We’ve either got smaller classes or we’ve got more opportunity for kids that they can explore options that aren’t available at these other schools like the robotics and technology program or TV production,” said Fuerst.

One parent pointed at the State Report Card as a reason their child doesn’t go to Van Wert. Fuerst said that Van Wert recently released their quality profile which gives a glimpse of all the positive things that are going on at Van Wert that test scores can’t measure. The quality profile can be viewed here: http://www.vwcs.net/qualityprofile.

Fuerst hopes to use the survey when she determines how to market the school in the future.

“There is a lot that we do at Van Wert that is excellent and that we take for granted every single day that is really good for our students that simply isn’t collected on that report card,” said Fuerst. “Some things you can’t collect and report in that data.”