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S.L. schools sell the sizzle

District's DVD touts lifestyle amenities to attract teachers

Culinary adventures, endless shopping opportunities, exciting entertainment, hip bars and beer. Sound like a vacation brochure? Maybe, but it's one of the tools the Salt Lake City School District is using to get teachers into its classrooms.

Earlier this year the district put together an informational DVD showcasing the recreational offerings of the Wasatch Front in order to hook new teachers.

Recruiting can be competitive. And inner-city Salt Lake educators face teaching challenges such as language barriers and poverty on a greater scale than other districts, said district spokesman Jason Olsen.

So the DVD could give district recruiters a bit of an edge.

Olsen said national research shows teachers are more attracted to lifestyle and what opportunities are available outside the classroom.

"On the DVD we talk very little about the district — everybody talks about that, and challenges are fairly universal no matter where you go," said Olsen. "You know you are not going to be on a CEO-level pay scale."

He said they play the footage at job fairs, send it out in recruiting packets and show it to potential teachers to let them see some of the things the state has going on.

"Salt Lake City offers a unique job experience . . . with cultural and recreational activities minutes outside your door," Olsen says on the DVD. "If you've heard stories about Utah's amazing snow — believe them. . . . See the Hogle Zoo's animal antics and winged wonders. . . . This is a great forward-thinking district. Surrounded by cultural and recreational opportunities, Salt Lake City is the place."

The DVD only cost time to create, with video resources donated by groups like Ski Utah, Utah Travel Council and the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Olsen said one of the goals of the district's human resource department was to sell the city as well as the district, especially to out-of-staters.

People still have misconceptions about Utah. The DVD helps to combat those misconceptions and shows what is really going on in the state, he said.

The video shows footage of ski resorts and red deserts, theaters and symphonies, drinking and dancing in hopes of painting a more accurate picture of Salt Lake City.

Granite and Jordan also have videos — but only about the districts' schools and programs. Granite spent $40,000 on their marketing DVD while Jordan dropped around $5,000, but both kept the entertainment aspects of Utah out.

Granite spokesman Randy Ripplinger said teachers today are in the profession because they have a mission — they want to affect lives, and prospective educators would be much more interested in programs and the district itself than lifestyle.

"I think that some of the recreational aspects of Utah are icing on the cake and will attract some people more than others, but teachers teach for different reasons," Ripplinger said.


E-mail: terickson@desnews.com