More answers needed on school bus ads

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – School buses in this municipality may not to have advertising on them until next school year – if at all.

Officials are continuing to look at options, including a non-profit state agency selling the ads.

Last year, the Middle Township Board of Education approved a policy that would allow advertisements to be installed on the outside of school buses.

School district Superintendent Michael Kopakowski said he isn’t sure if the school board is going to take advantage of putting advertisements on school buses. The idea is still new, he said.

Kopakowski said has no details on how much money would be brought in or if the efforts would even be worth it.

“There’s nothing to base it on,” he also said.

School officials may call in companies to give presentations on school bus advertising, which may have to be done through a request for proposals, he said.

The district may also go through Educational Information & Research Center, a non-profit state agency. A shared services agreement with the agency, of Gloucester County, would come with a small upfront cost but its website does not specify a price.

Revenues could be $450-$2,000 a bus each year, and starting cost for an ad would be $1,350 a year, according to the Educational Information & Research Center’s website.

A company, Fox School Bus Media, also handles school bus advertising, and says that school districts get 70 percent of revenues from the ads on the buses. Many schools could possibly see more than $100,000 each year, according to Fox School Bus Media’s website.

A formula is in place for earmarking school bus advertising revenues. Fifty percent would go toward offsetting fuel costs for student transportation services and 50 percent could be put elsewhere, either toward services or programs.

Middle’s board attorney would review the advertisements as would the Board of Education.

Certain advertisements would not be accepted, including for gambling, tobacco, tobacco-related products or alcohol, ads endorsing sexual activity, violent or antisocial behavior, or political, religious, issue-related or controversial advertisement.

The Board of Education has not yet approved ad specifications, Kopakowski said.

He said he is expecting nothing to be approved on school bus advertising at the January Board of Education meeting.

If school bus advertising plan goes through, Kopakowski anticipates it would start during the 2013-14 school year.

New Jersey started allowing school bus advertising in 2012. Other states allow such advertising, too, including Texas and Arizona.

– Alex Davis

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