The state-funded charter schools' enrollment includes many children from low-income families. According to Chalkbeat, Carpe Diem offered $100 gift cards to persons who provided student referrals to help the school boost its enrollment 40 students by February. That was in addition to money the school spent marketing itself through open houses, distributing fliers to parents and day care centers and TV and radio appearances. Critics are concerned the referral fees lead parents to make less than rational choices when choosing the school to send their children. Echols was unapologetic about the incentives paid for referrals.
People are more excited to do something where they get something out of it,” Echols said. “Parents are like, ‘Oh I do have a cousin that was looking for a school.’ It’s just to encourage people.”
But she said she is confident offering a gift card wasn’t the reason the school ultimately exceeded its enrollment goals. Two more Carpe Diem campuses are slated to open this fall in Indianapolis, each aiming to eventually enroll 300 students. Carpe Diem combines traditional classroom instruction with online lessons.
“We are a blended learning school and that’s what parents love about it,” Echols said. “We have children coming from everywhere, not because of the gift cards, but because we’re offering something different. We are filling a niche.”Read the rest of the story at Chalkbeat by clicking here.