Watch for ads on the side of your kid's bus
Advertisers are likely to soon be catching the bus in the Clear Creek and Friendswood school districts.
Officials in both districts expect advertisements to start appearing on buses as soon as early next year, joining a growing number of districts, including Pearland, Pasadena and Santa Fe.
The Friendswood school board is expected to approve a deal for school bus advertising with Houston-based Alpha Media during its Dec. 8 meeting, said George Rodgers, the Friendswood school district's assistant superintendent for business. Last month, the board discussed the possibility, but some members wanted more information.
It's just a formality at this point in time," Rodgers said. It just has to go back to them for their approval."
Earlier this week the Clear Creek board approved the first reading of a change in district policy that will allow for the advertising on its buses. The second and final reading will be at the board's Dec. 14 meeting.
Once the policy change receives final approval in Clear Creek, a company will be hired to solicit advertisements. The district is considering two such companies, district spokeswoman Elaina Polsen said.
The district has 235 buses that are used for 172 bus routes, and school officials project making $200,000 annually from bus advertising.
CCISD is seeking extra revenue because it is facing a $13 million budget shortfall next school year, Polsen said.
We're looking at all options on how we can reduce our deficit and generate alternate revenue while simultaneously enhancing and improving the quality of education," Polsen said.
The idea would be to solicit "reputable" advertisers such as insurers, car dealers, restaurants, hospitals, home builders and dentists. The ads would have to be age-appropriate, with no promotion of alcohol, drugs or gambling and with no offensive ethnic, racial or religious references. CCISD would have a committee approve all ads.
Friendswood plans to seek similar kinds of advertisers.
It's going to be very non-threatening advertisements," Rodgers said.
If hired by Friendswood, Alpha Media will give half of the ad revenues to the district, Rodgers said. Alpha Media charges up to $240 per ad, according to one of its employees.
The Friendswood district has 50 buses that are used for 32 routes. The district projects that it could receive as much as $40,000 annually from Alpha Media, Rodgers said.
That's almost the cost of a teacher," he said. That's great."
And with the district so far having failed to meet enrollment levels this year to receive state funding that it had counted on for its budget, advertising on its buses looks likely to be its latest effort to make extra money.
It's a difficult time," Rodgers said. We're looking for any way we can to cut expenses or increase the revenue."
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