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Date: August 8, 2012
by: Mike Cavaliere | Staff Writer


Nancy Holman, president of School Partnerships, which manages the web advertising for Volusia County Schools, made a presentation to the Flagler County School Board Monday, Aug. 6, to sell the idea of the district selling ad space online, as a means of bringing in new revenue.

“(The campaign) was introduced very tactfully, very tastefully,” she told the board, of her company’s roll-out of web marketing in Volusia. “And they haven’t had one complaint (from parents or teachers).”

School Partnerships was formed in April 2009, and Holman was sure to reiterate several times that introducing online advertising through a school system was a learning process for both her company and Volusia.

“There were no models to follow here,” she said. “(Volusia) was hesitant. … They really took baby steps.”

Over time, price points were tweaked (Volusia now charges $10 per 1,000 page views). Incentive packages were introduced for long-term, prepaid contracts. Monthly reports are given. And after revenues remaining “pretty flat” at the beginning of the district’s contract with Holman’s company, momentum is now beginning to grow.

“My job was to change the mindset of the business community,” she said. “And it’s happening.”

Last month, $25,000 was brought in through advertising in Volusia. A few of the companies signed on to market with the district are Geico, car dealerships and medical offices.

“You would have complete control,” Holman told the board, explaining that Volusia has a six-person committee, which approves every ad that runs. “Every contract states that you can cancel at any time, for any reason … and I think parents are willing to accept advertising to save programs or save jobs.”

District Risk Manager Mike Judd agreed.

“I think this ought to be safe for the schools,” he said. But Flagler is still a ways away from making web marketing the norm.

First, staff has to look into its online visitation numbers, he said, to see if online marketing would even make sense with the amount of traffic school sites get. They would also need to look more into Skyward, the school’s online assignment platform and grade book, to ensure that the site is capable of hosting ads.

“It seems like a very simple way to get started (on our new marketing policy),” Board Vice-Chairman Andy Dance said. “And I like the fact that you worked out all the kinks with Volusia.”

Staff will present more specific numbers to the board at a future meeting.