Schools Could Soon Sell Ads on School Buses

One of Oklahoma's lawmakers is trying to give school districts the ability to make money from selling ads on the sides of buses.

Wednesday, April 7th 2010, 5:51 pm

By: News 9


By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- One of Oklahoma's lawmakers is trying to give school districts the ability to make money from mobile advertising.

Faced with significant reductions in the budget, school districts across the state are looking for ways to save money and increase revenue.

Representative Seneca Scott, a Democrat from Tulsa, has filed an amendment to SB421 to allow businesses to advertise on the side of school buses.

"With the revenue that we're facing right now and the inevitable downturn, this is going to be a way for the local school districts to generate some much needed revenue," said Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs.

If passed, each school district would be required to establish an advertising review board to approve the content of the ads and review the effectiveness of the advertising programs.

The amendment goes on to read: "A school district.. shall give preference to advertisement of products that are manufactured or processed in Oklahoma."

Jenks is one of the districts strapped for cash. It, like so many others, is already selling ad space on school grounds, but now district leaders are getting behind the idea of turning their buses into mobile billboards.

"During these very difficult two, three, four years, we know we're in for it in our public schools. This will allow us to generate some alternative revenue to keep teachers in classrooms," said Roger Wright, Jenks Public School District.

Putting ads on a school bus is nothing new. It's been done for years in other states, but budget woes have led to a recent resurgence.

Officials with Dallas-based Alpha Media, a school bus ad company, said there business is booming.

"To be honest it's just a huge money maker. It requires no risk or effort on their part and it's really a nice way to counter-act budgets that are declining," said Michael Beauchamp, Alpha Media.

Some school districts have reported earning up to $300,000 a year, but not everyone's on board.

The consumer group "Commercial Alert" recently told USA Today it's a concept that "teaches children that they're for sale."

Others said the ads are likely to distract drivers, but lawmakers said in these tough times every penny counts, and the time to do this is now.

Ads that won't be allowed on buses will include political ads, religious, gambling, alcohol and tobacco ads.

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