Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another state considers advertisements on school buses

School buses in Idaho could be sporting more than just a yellow jacket now that a measure allowing buses to wear corporate logos has passed the Senate.

The Senate voted 25-9 in favor of a bill that would give school districts the option of selling ad space on the sides of busses. 

Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder of Boise, who called the initiative one more step to helping schools deal with a budget crisis, said selling the ad space could generate up to $1 million a year.

This does not mean that anything and everything goes. The State Board of Education has the authority to determine what ads are acceptable. Under the bill, ads for products that are illegal for minors and ads for alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling, sexual material or the promotion of political parties, candidates or issues would be prohibited.

Those against the plan say "the ads could become a dangerous distraction for drivers near bus routes and it would be difficult to gauge the appropriate content boundaries for ads containing sexual material."

Boise Democratic Sen. Les Bock argued that school bus ads are distasteful and taint the image of an American icon.

There's also the argument that it will set a precedence and before long everything once considered off limits will become billboard-friendly including the athletic fields, buildings, uniforms and even permission slips.

About half-a-dozen states already allow bus advertising. Many parts of Europe have also introduced similar arrangements. Results have been mixed. While some school districts appear to be making money, others have discontinued the service for lack of interest (by advertisers) or financial gain.

Michigan's buses are still yellow but with its school districts being as cash-strapped as other states that could change.

AP Contributed to this report

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