Tulsa School Board approves 'bus billboards'

Tuesday, October 21st 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A new addition is on its way to Tulsa School buses, advertising. The Tulsa school board voted Monday night to allow commercial ads inside buses.

Several members were concerned about the change, but decided the district needs the money to help keep those buses rolling.

News on 6 anchor Terry Hood says more than 20,000 kids climb into Tulsa Public School buses every day. And to some that makes school buses a valuable commodity. One Blake Lund thinks he can turn into a cash cow for the district. "There's a lot of people ready to hop on board there's a lot of money ready to go to TPS."

Lund is a long time special events promoter. When he first came up with the idea of busboards, he wanted the on the outside of the bus. He tried for a year to get permission, but the plan stalled because of safety reasons. So Lund turned his idea inside out. "I started thinking interior signs would be a great idea because we have a captive audience and it kind of defines the market a little bit."

Tulsa Public Schools runs 275 school buses every day. If each one was sold out with ads it could bring the district half a million dollars.

But some are concerned about bombarding school children with ads. Wendy Higgins, parent: "And they're already inundated from every direction. I think we need to take responsibility and say enough. Do we really need more advertising?"

At Rogers High School, ads for soft drink companies are prominent on the sports fields. Cathy Newsome, TPS School Board member: There is a lot of commercialism that our students are exposed to already but it is a potential source of revenue."

Michael Pierce, TPS School Board President: "we feel that its important that we transport kids as much as possible, this is the only way at this time."

Tulsa Public Schools already has a policy prohibiting ads for cigarettes or alcohol in schools. They want to fine-tune the policy before the busboards go in within the next month or so.