Billboard Marketing Campaign

Instead of actually improving academic achievement, DeKalb Schools is starting a marketing campaign to “counter mainstream perceptions” of the problems with the school district. If the school district wants to let people know how they are doing, here is my suggestion.

A series of billboards will be purchased across DeKalb. Traditional and social media will be utilized to market the district’s message starting with the following press release.

I love DeKalb Schools

New marketing effort highlights community’s investment in the DeKalb County School District

Media Alert
July 10, 2017

STONE MOUNTAIN, GA. – The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) today unveiled the first pieces of a revolutionary marketing effort designed to highlight the community’s investment in the success of its schools.
In this first phase of a three-phase campaign, a series of seven billboards have been posted at strategic locations across DeKalb County. In addition, a new webpage has been launched simultaneously, with messaging that reflects the unity, spirit and diversity of the school district. Phase one of the campaign will also include print ads, television commercials, an original jingle performed by DCSD students, promotional materials and social media.
The goal of the effort, according to Superintendent/CEO Dr. R. Stephen Green, is to remind all stakeholders of the value of DeKalb County schools, and to counter mainstream perceptions and attitudes that don’t accurately reflect the work of students and staff.
“In two years, DCSD has made dramatic progress in student achievement and delivering deep teaching and learning,” Green said. “Now is the time for us to make it crystal clear what we’re about – a community that values education, its schools and its stakeholders. This new marketing program allows us to better control our narrative and tell our own story.” Through media impressions, social engagement and increased website traffic, the campaign will create a strong presence in the Metro Atlanta K-12 landscape and will be used as a promotional tool to recruit new students and families to the DeKalb County School District.
The marketing effort is the brainchild of the district’s Division of Communications and Community Relations, and is the first wave of a push to reestablish the district’s links with its community. Other division efforts, such as an external newsletter, a district news magazine, a new flyer management system, the district’s co-branding efforts and a rededication to social media are projects currently underway.
Locations for the marketing billboards include:

  • I-285 N/O Covington Highway
  • I-285 W/O New Peachtree Road
  • I-20 E Wesley Chapel
  • Memorial Drive –Hairston Road
  • I-20 E Klondike Road
  • 811 Peachtree Industrial Blvd
  • 556 Buford Highway/Clairmont Road

DeKalb County Schools to spend $85,000 on marketing campaign
By Adam Murphy

Tim Halloran has raised three children in DeKalb County Schools.
“I don’t know what they’re going to advertise to be honest with you,” Halloran said.
He was perplexed to learn that the county would spend $85,710 of taxpayer money for billboards and other ads which say, “I Love DeKalb Schools. Inspire, Achieve, Excel.”
“Put it in the classrooms, give it to the teachers before you’re off advertising something that’s probably going to be a water sandwich to be honest with you,” Halloran said.
School board member Stan Jester is also opposed to the campaign and wrote a blog stating that the billboards should say, “Most failing schools in Georgia, worst paid teachers, deficit spending and 2nd highest millage rate in Georgia.”
Continue Reading >>

I Love DeKalb Commericial:

44 responses to “Billboard Marketing Campaign

  1. Carol Rucks-Alsaedi

    Oh yes! I am excited! That is certain to raise those darn test scores!

  2. DCSDumpsterFire

    Your tax dollars at work!

  3. I pity the poor schmuck who had to waste web skills on this page.
    Under “Be a Heartbeat” there’s a call to action labeled “Inspire Others by clicking here”.
    Nothing to click.

  4. I pity the poor schmuck who had to waste web skills on this page.
    Under “Be a Heartbeat” there’s a call to action labeled “Inspire Others by clicking here”.
    Nothing to click.
    So even if you WANT to shout glory from the rooftops, you can’t do it here.
    EPS file isn’t linked under “Logo”. So much for printables.
    Happy Monday, everybody.

  5. Why oh why do they have to refer to it as a “revolutionary marketing effort”? Can’t they just use normal words? Does everything have to be so dramatic? I mean – good for them for trying to improve perception – but the best way to do that is to improve, fully fund and support what goes on in the classroom. THEN promote the positive results (hopefully with a touch of humility). Quiet, hard work in the classrooms will yield positive results. Marketing campaigns and press releases reprinted at the AJC are simply fake news.

  6. ps – I hope they have releases from the children in the photo’s parents. Either that – or it’s just a generic stock photo for which they have paid the proper usage rights. Billboards are such an old-fashioned marketing tool. They are super expensive ($500 a month and up) and impossible to evaluate success or failure. Perhaps this is why our new, highly paid marketing administrator is employing billboards. It’s impossible to measure her success or failure – not that the district leaders care about success or failure. DeKalb school district is a jobs program for adults and always has been. Access to over $1.2 Billion every single year with essentially ZERO accountability!

  7. Michelle Fincher

    This reminds me of Crawford Lewis’ “Premier DeKalb” marketing nonsense. It is an insult to taxpayers that they are spending our money on this when they can’t build adequate schools, or efficiently use the space they have currently. Drive around Fulton or Cobb and you can see how life could be for our kids (and teachers) if our money was not mismanaged.

  8. Oh – sorry to take up so many comment boxes – but a simple Google image search on the banner picture shows that yes, this is a stock photo and is used all over the web — including the Secure Schools Alliance, a Badr News article about Iraqu’s population growth and a CNS news article titled, “Trump’s Education Plan: School Choice for ‘Every Single Inner City Child in America'” We had better hope they paid the proper licensing fees! If it’s from Getty it’s $$$.

  9. Please tell me this is a bad dream. I have never been so embarrassed for my school system, or angry about how my tax dollars are being wasted.
    How about we work on having well-qualified teachers in place? How about we work on having well-qualified principals and assistant principals in place?
    How about we stop promoting how great we are until test scores, graduation rates, reading levels improve?
    PLEASE write all of the BOE members and tell them that you do not support this campaign! Since it is in the approved budget it is unlikely that it will stop, but the other BOE members need to hear from you. Stan can’t do it alone.

  10. That Trump article is reposted all over the web with the same photo! LOL… Too bad they couldn’t spend that money to hire a photographer and shoot photos of REAL DeKalb students! (With parental photo releases of course!)

  11. Can we get a name for this marketing genius? Anyone should be able to see the falsity of this obscure, totally useless bs. Cere, you are so correct. Most of us out there watched Freeman run the school system straight to hell, always talking about “FAMILY”! while promoting his own two sons and daughter-in-law. All of them since, same story, except more and more “lovers” became promoted! DeKalb is a disgrace, except for the beautiful teachers, students, and parents like Stan and Nancy Jester, who dare to speak the truth. I can’t imagine how they can stand all the mess.

  12. Can someone please supply me with all the names and addresses of the board? No, Stan can’t do this job of supporting real schools with real teachers, kids, and parents by himself, and he shouldn’t have to! Why, Board, are you so wrong, so often. Cancel this “convocation” immediately and drop the word entirely from the English language.

  13. Dr. Melvin Johnson (
    Dr. Michael A. Erwin (
    Mr. Stan Jester (
    Mr. Marshall D. Orson (
    Mr. James L. ‘Jim’ McMahan (
    Mrs. Vickie B. Turner (
    Dr. Joyce Morley (

  14. Does anyone else see the potential downside of the “Be A Heartbeat” page?
    Want to share your unique experiences and memories on why you love DeKalb Schools?
    Inspire others by clicking here!

  15. I’m born and raised in Dekalb County. I completed all of my grade school years here in Dekalb and I’m ashamed that Dekalb has gotten so awful. Our school system is a joke. Our police is understaffed and underpaid, 45 minute response times are ridiculous.
    Thank God Nancy and you are in office and are doing everything y’all can to save our county, but y’all can’t do it alone. The others need to step in and take action and help you all.

  16. AP Classes in South DeKalb are an EPIC FAILURE. I just don’t see how a billboard will help teach these children.

  17. @Kirk,
    Yes, I think our highly paid Communications staff is going to be very busy weeding out “unique experiences and memories” that they want to keep off the website. They will also probably be using their creative writing skills to create posts that follow the “I Love DCSD” narrative.

  18. Jarvis Turner

    Sometimes I believe Dekalb is more focused on image rather than substance. Simply do the work that needs to be done and your work will speak for itself.

  19. If DCSS can get people to think it has improved academic achievement, is that as good as actually doing it? [wink]

  20. We have custodians, para educators, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and some teachers that do not make $ 50,000 dollars in a year.
    I am sorry.
    How is this suppose to make people feel happy and excited?

  21. This reminds me of “The Music Man” con with the band. “We’re not going to bother teaching our students. If we can just fool them into thinking they’re smart, they’ll act smart.”

  22. Jules Winnfield

    Sometimes perception leads to reality. I believe it did for the City Schools of Decatur which has seen dramatic improvement over the last decade. That said, I think Dekalb County is just too big and there are far too many chronically failing schools to fool anyone in this case.

  23. Retired DeKalb teacher fed up with wasteful spending.

    John A I agree. If Greene, Johnson and the other worthless people seated on the don’t care who will. Stan Jester can’t do it alone, God bless he and Nancy!

  24. This money could be used to repair our bathrooms, stop the a/ c from leaking so much that we need trashcans in the halls, and replace portable units that need buckets when it rains.

  25. Billboards do not retain teachers. Fully funded class sizes, classrooms, competitive teacher salaries and benefits do.
    This news , the Big Pep Rally, and new budget which depends on deficit spending all make me want to throw up.

  26. Would love for those billboards to publicize a signing bonus for new teachers, and a raise for continuing teachers and schoolhouse staff.

  27. Stephen Green, Superintendent, DeKalb Schools

    sent via email
    Please see below clarifying information regarding the costs associated with Phase I of the Marketing Campaign:
    Billboards – $50,000
    Print ads and commercials on cable stations $35,710
    Total cost for Phase I which launches this week is $85,710.
    This money is from the Communications budgets in FY 17 and FY 18.

  28. K. Thompson

    OK. I’ll bite.
    “Marketing Campaign?” Selling what, exactly? If this is “selling a better image of the *accomplishments* of DCSD” then that is called, in the real world, “Public Relations.” If this is PR, let me introduce myself: I am the public and you can relate to me by providing a viable education to DeKalb students with my money.
    Your humble taxpayer.

  29. Here’s a bit of good news for 4th graders across this great country!
    I recently discovered a program where you can get a free pass for you and your family if you are in 4th grade! It’s good from September through August of your 4th grade year!

  30. chamblee getting screwed

    So check my math:
    Advertising campaign (first phase): $85K
    Opening convocation: $150K
    Total: $235K that is not going into the classroom.
    Yet we still don’t have a principal at Chamblee High
    And that’s just the beginning…

  31. Bottleneck – the Superintendent was on vacation July 3 – 7 and at a Superintendent Summit July 11-15

  32. A) They were able to recover the fund balance due to a windfall in tax collections due to the increases in property values without lowering the millage rate.
    B) They just recently lowered the millage rate a measley .5 after raising it 2 full points in the last several years. They still remain the second highest in the state.
    C) Green just hired this ‘communications director’ in the last year. Rather than spending time and energy ‘communicating’ what is going on in and around the district, she has once again assumed the job of ‘damage control’. As in – let’s just say it’s so. That’s PR – that’s advertising – not communication.
    D) Green – show us the money. SHOW in the books where you are directing more money into the classroom. Do you still exercise a state waiver on class size and classroom spending? Have you reached the state’s minimum of 65% yet? Now that would be newsworthy!

  33. @ Cere – I wonder how many systems in the state do not reach the minimum for 65% in the classroom for spending? I would also like to know why our State School Superintendent does not hold these systems feet to the fire.
    Remember this year, we vote for a new State School Superintendent and you better believe I will be researching a candidate that will hold school systems accountable.

  34. Chad Peterson

    I don’t have a problem with DCSS spending a little money to celebrate their successes. Things seem to have rebounded off a very low point. Everything’s not great, or even necessarily good. Just not terrible. When I compare DCSS to other metro systems, I would want to understand how we are spending the instructional money. We seem pretty comparable in the other categories, but maybe I’m not reading the reports correctly. We spend a lot more than the surrounding counties per student on paper. You would think that high instructional dollars per student would lead to lower class sizes but we see the opposite.
    It’s surprising to me that residents in south DeKalb are moving to Clayton County, but based on the enrollments, that has to be what is happening. If we were effectively spending that instructional money, then I wouldn’t think that would be occurring.

  35. Chad – $1 that goes to a billboard touting Dekalb’s successes (what exactly are those? – we basically live in the worst school system in the state) is one less dollar going toward the classroom. When you have some successes, then go put it on a billboard. Until then, put it in the classroom.

  36. Chad Peterson

    We have a challenging population of students. But I lived in South Georgia, so while DeKalb is way underperforming, they aren’t the worst in the state. The schools that I’m districted for are pretty good.
    I’m all for us being more cost effective and $85,000 is $85,000. But as my comment suggested, the $800 million that we spend in the classroom is where I would start. I personally think we could and should be doing more with that $800M.

  37. There are 180 public school districts in DeKalb. We have the 2nd highest millage rate and the most failing schools in Georgia. What metrics are you using to compare DeKalb Schools to other school districts?

  38. Chad Peterson

    I just went to and it had us at #122 out of #180. I believe that’s just test scores. I think my post clearly suggests that it is not a lack of spend and that we should be focused on improving our results from the $813M we spend on instruction.

  39. Chad Peterson

    We have the most schools in the state and the most failing schools. The fact we have the most schools in the state when we don’t have the most students is probably one of the reasons we don’t get as much bang for our buck.

  40. SchoolDigger might use CCRPI. On the bright side, Dekalb is ahead of APS and Chatham Schools (Savannah).

  41. @ Chad – I am not a fan of spending any money outside of the classroom that should be there for our kids. Last year at the HMS “Screen on the Green” a Hispanic Mom asked Dr. Green for a full-time interpreter at their school. Dr. Green said there wasn’t any money in the budget to add one this year but he would look into it for this school year. (That is the way I understood the answer. If someone else was there and may have heard it a different way, please chime in.)
    Guess what, there has never been a vacancy of PATS for an interpreter at her school. For the money spent on billboards and convocation, the county could hire 3 – 4 more interpreters and put them in school that desperately need a full-time interpreter.
    We are lucky, we can go to our school and are able to talk to our teacher, principal, and guidance counselor if we have a problem with our student, bully situation, or maybe out student needs to be tested for an IEP. Put yourself in the place of a parent that needs an interpreter. Let’s say a problem comes up on Tuesday, but your school has their interpreter on Monday. So you come back the next Monday to find out that they (interpreter) is sick or had an emergency out of the school. Now you have to wait until the following Monday. What good have we done for this student or family that is in desperate need?

  42. DeKalb Schools releases their commercial. Let me know if anybody can figure out why the school district would spend money on this.

  43. Nine people in the communications department, according to closing credits. Wonder if some of those salaries could instead be used to hire better or more teachers?