INDIANAPOLIS -- The Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township is launching a new initiative in an effort to recruit more families to the east side.
The newly formed LT Realtor Task Force aims to dispel negative perceptions about the school district and will arm local realtors with positive information about schools in the area.
“We need to be proactive in telling our own story. Otherwise, it will be told for us,” said Dana Altemeyer, communications coordinator for Lawrence Township schools. “We are a growing district, but we know this is an open market in education, and we're not the only show in town."
With the expansion of vouchers, school districts across Indiana are competing for every student because more students result in more state funding.
Lawrence Township earned a “C” accountability grade from the state last year, and only 40% of students in grades 3-8 passed the ISTEP, putting Lawrence Township in the middle of Marion County schools.
- Franklin Township: 60.2%
- Perry Township: 49.1%
- Washington Township: 43.9%
- Lawrence Township: 40.3%
- Warren Township: 38%
- Pike Township: 35.1%
- Wayne Township: 35.7%
- IPS: 25.3%
“We will be the district of destination,” said Altemeyer.
Altemeyer said the task force would arm realtors with statistics like the district’s 92% graduation rate, which has increased 7% over the past two years.
- 4% increase in African-American pass rate on IREAD3
- 6% increase in Hispanic pass rate on IREAD3
- 10% increase in students sitting for AP exams with an increase in proficiency rate
- Exceeding state targets on WIDA assessments (English proficiency exam for English Language Learners)
Popular schools like Amy Beverland with its communication program and Spanish immersion school Forest Glen are a big draw to the district.
Currently, in the school district, more than 250 homes are on the market.
But selling them for what they're worth is difficult, according to realtor Miriam Odegard, who is a member of the task force.
“People say they’ve heard not good things about the schools, and it’s extremely frustrating, but I can’t fight perception on my own,” said Odegard. “I’d like to start by talking about the wonderful experience my four children have had in this school district.”
Julie Ray, a mother of two children in the district, said when she moved in December she chose her home so that her children could stay at Amy Beverland.
"I was prepared if I needed to move out of the township, but still drive my children back to Lawrence Township schools, but luckily I ended up find a house," said Ray.
The task force will look at what decisions come into play when buying a home, the role of social media, as well as how buyers perceive neighboring school districts.
The task force’s first meeting is on June 14 and will meet every quarter.
Other school districts told RTV6 they also work with local realtors but don’t necessarily have a designated task force.
Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation in Hancock County participates in a realtor breakfast every fall and also provides school materials to realtors and builders.