Gettin’ Schooled on Budget Cuts

 

Okay, the title is a bad pun. Really bad, but the inspiration(?!) for the title is I came across an article on Adland.TV (http://bit.ly/nFWz1r ) about schools are selling advertising space to help with the the budget cuts in today’s economical climate.

In Philadelphia, Bucks County’s Pennsbury School District, the 16 elementary, middle, and high schools are being adorned with – some say defiled by – advertisements as large as 5 by 10 feet. By month’s end, 47 should be in place. Ultimately, 218 are to appear on walls and floors, and shrink-wrapped over lockers, locker-room benches, even cafeteria tables. The Pennsbury school board signed a contract with a national advertising agency that could boost the district’s battered budget by as much as $424,000, while giving the firm’s clients access to the habitat of 10,950 children, tweens, and teens. The ads must relate to health, education, nutrition, or student safety, and may not directly endorse products. They tout, among other things, reading and outdoor activities (the U.S. Library of Congress and the Ad Council); organizational skills (Post-it Notes), and concussion awareness (Dick’s Sporting Goods).

Last month, New Jersey has allowed districts to display advertisements on their school buses, noting that districts could earn up to $1,000 per bus by selling ads. Other states like Ohio, Utah and Washington had also considered a similar move. Two years ago, Idaho high school teacher Jeb Harrison started selling ad space on his tests and handouts — by striking a deal with a local pizza shop.

Florida’s Orange County Public Schools have adopted an advertising program that allows marketing in areas including online, on lunch menus, play sponsorships and a parking garage billboard. In about 18 months, the district had made about $270,000, according to the Orlando Sentinel. At home in Colorado, Jefferson County Schools says the district “has a three-year contract with a bank that is worth about $500,000 over four years. A bank spokesperson said ”This contract also allows to be prominently displayed on the district Web page, in district stadiums, and in every high school gym.”

Now, when I was in school we had our share of ads or posters or hallway decorations for Homecoming, Prom, School Elections, Dances, concerts and plays. Now they just have to compete for wall space against an Post-it Notes.

Related stories: Huffington Post: http://bit.ly/nFWz1r and USA Today: http://usat.ly/pDSMwn

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