Clear Creek may allow ads on school buses
What would you do for a quarter of a million dollars? Clear Creek ISD might be willing to sell ads on its school buses.
Faced with a projected $9 million to $12 million budget deficit this year, Superintendent Greg Smith told the Board of Trustees last night that it's time to get creative.
"We are not turning any opportunities down," he said.
Board members attending this month's workshop meeting learned Humble ISD is taking in $250,000 this year by turning its buses into billboards, and with 255 buses running 173 routes each day, Clear Creek stands to pocket something close to that. Other school districts already trying it are Pearland, Pasadena, Cy-Fair, Spring and Anahuac.
The idea is still in a "just thinking about it" phase and no date has even been set yet for a vote, but staff researching the possibility found that the district could probably charge about $350 a month for splashing an ad as big as 2.5 feet by 7.5 feet across the driver's side of the bus where the kids won't see it while boarding. A 1.5-foot-by-9 foot-ad stripped above the bus windows on either side of the bus could fetch about $175 a month. Plus installation fees of $250.
Clear Creek, in fact, already has seven buses with signs touting the energy efficiency of its buses -- ever seen the ones that say, "We're helping clean our air one bus at a time!"? -- and the proposed ads would look very similar, since size and positioning are restricted by the state.
"Reputable" advertisers such as insurers, car dealers, restaurants, hospitals, home builders and dentists could run 9-month ads on the routes of its choice, perhaps near their businesses or maybe on the freeway where commuters could see them. The ads would have to be age-appropriate, of course, with no promotion of alcohol, drugs or gambling and with no offensive ethnic, racial or religious references.
None of the board members raised any real objections to bus advertising, although one, Win Weber, wondered whether the district could find itself promoting unhealthy lifestyles like fast food. She wanted to make sure ads would be subject to CCISD approval but was assured that would be the case.
Board member Robert Davee said advertisement guidelines would have to be in place to avoid potential embarrassment or lawsuits. Otherwise, he said, "I for one don't see a problem with it."
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