From: Earl P. Johnson   Subject: Response to Your Questions Date: Tuesday, August 03, 1999 8:30 AM


Here is the response to the questions you asked me on the phone. In 1996, after experiencing several years of enrollment decline, the San Mateo County Community College District conducted an extensive Community Needs Assessment. The major findings were that many people lack an awareness of the colleges, that they receive little information at home about the colleges, and that the colleges are not aggressive or thorough in their outreach and marketing. The major recommendations were that the District and the Colleges should launch an aggressive, multi-message advertising campaign; increase evening and weekend course offerings, and make the campuses friendly, clean, lighted and safe.

For your information, I will mail you the Summary of Key Findings from that study.

The District simply did not have the funds to respond to the marketing recommendations until last year. Last Fall, the State PERS retirement system informed all community colleges, that because of the strong performance of the stock market, Districts would not have to make their local contribution to the retirement system for 1998-99. That freed approximately $250,000 and the Board set aside $90-100,000 for a comprehensive TV and print marketing campaign. The Board interviewed several firms and selected Bay Relations (2171 Junipero Serra Suite 280 - Daly City 94014 (650) 755-5656) to conduct the marketing campaign.

Specifically, to answer your questions to me: approximately $82,000 is being spent on direct mail; this includes design, printing, brochures, and postage. There are two brochures, and I believe you have or will receive both of them.

Bay Relations conducted a series of focus groups with selected demographics to identify those groups that were not familiar with the colleges, to identify who should receive the brochures, and to identify the key messages that would appeal to those groups. As a result of the focus groups, two brochures were mailed out, each one to the same 100,000 households in San Mateo County. These were generally people 40 to 60 years of age. The TV portion of the campaign began in early May and will continue at least until the end of the year. Coincidentally, summer enrollment was up substantially.

Independent of the marketing campaign, the Board decided to research the feasibility of a bond issue to address facility needs. Based on extensive facility studies, approximately $220,000,000 in need was identified. A community survey was done to determine what bond projects and tax amounts voters would support. Based on the consultant's recommendation, the amount was reduced to $148,000,000 or approximately $6.75 per $100,000 of assessed valuation per year.

The other question you asked me was about the web page. I also checked with legal counsel who feels that the information is factual in nature and is not advocacy and therefore is legal. Barbara checked with legal counsel before ever posting the link to the bond measure.

Bond issue or not, the Board would have proceeded with the same exact schedule and program for the marketing campaign. This is a $250,000 effort to support our community outreach that has been underfunded for some time. Enrollment declined for several years and turned upward two years ago after I instructed the colleges to begin advertising, expand course offerings, implement aggressive new program development and expand outreach efforts. The upward movement continued through this summer.

I hope this information is helpful and Barbara or I will be very glad to provide any additional information you may require.

By the way, I go by two names, so don't let that confuse you. My legal name is Earl P. Johnson, but I have the nickname of Joe. Sincerely, Joe Johnson