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Published: Wednesday, 11/9/2005

Swanton: Officials look at "rebranding"

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

SWANTON - Staff and students in the Swanton area are talking about how to "rebrand" Bulldog Country.

Before someone starts growling, nobody's saying that Swanton should abandon its mascot - the short-haired, square-jawed, heavily built dog noted for its strength.

However, officials are interested in pursuing this rebranding effort to "put a new look on our district," said Paulette Raczkowski-Baz, secondary administrative assistant for Swanton schools. She plans to meet next week with a newly formed committee to discuss fresh ways to focus positive attention on the district.

One approach being considered: a new slogan and/or art design. The committee on Monday is to review dozens of entries from students in Swanton's middle school and high school who submitted designs and slogans. Winning entries might be selected during the meeting, but Mrs. Raczkowski-Baz said it might take more time.

As a way to say "bully for them," students who submitted winning entries - one for the new slogan and one for the design - will be awarded iPods, said Mike Remer, school board member who said that the "rebranding" effort is still in the formative stage. The new slogan and design are to be adopted by the school board as part of its standard letterhead and will feed into the "rebranding" effort, he said.

"The rebranding is something that I as one board member am trying to make happen," he said. The strategy, he said, is that as the district makes improvements in curriculum and other areas "we want our brand to reflect this progress," or in other words "You have to look the part."

Mr. Remer noted that he isn't proposing any drastic image changes. "However, I do believe we could benefit as a community and school district by communicating with a fresh look," said, adding that the "key is that there is real work going on in the district and we need a way to communicate this to the area. Rebranding is one way that I propose we do this."

The new slogan and design could be incorporated possibly into banners that would be placed in the schools, said Mrs. Raczkowski-Baz.

Efforts to pump up the image are being made after some tough financial years in the district. Swanton has worked to turn the corner on its financial woes since voter approval of critical tax issues, including a five-year, 1.25 percent income tax. Prior to that, voters had rejected a series of levies.

There have been struggles in the classroom too. In August the district earned a "continuous improvement" rating when the Ohio Department of Education released annual statewide performance data.

The board of education decided to hire a curriculum director in an effort to improve its marks.

In the district, which met 12 of 23 state standards, staff training and development is a main thrust this school year, and as the district "strives for greatness," Mrs. Raczkowski-Baz wants the public to know how hard teachers are working. "They are all committed," she said, adding that the staff's "total focus" is on student learning.

Superintendent Neil Weber said that a slogan could help the district broadcast a positive image. "We think we have a good school system and we need to advertise that," he said

Contact Janet Romaker at:

jromaker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6006.



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