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School bus billboards

A cash-strapped school district’s gotta do what a cash-strapped school district’s gotta do.

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.

[…]

“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.

In the sense that this is vastly preferable to things like laying off employees, dropping programs, or cutting bus service, I have no objection to this idea. In the sense that any school district should have to face these kinds of choices as a result of the continued penury of our state leadership and the bizarre anti-tax mania of too many of our citizens, I find it distasteful in the extreme. On balance, I say go for it. Thanks to Marc Campos for the tip.

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  1. […] do remember, and I feel the same way about HISD doing it as I did Humble ISD. If we’re going to do it, I […]