Ads on school buses could help districts

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Your child’s school bus could soon become a moving billboard.

A pilot program allowing ad sales on buses in Franklin Township, Beech Grove and Zionsville passed the Senate overwhelmingly. It’s a way for cash-strapped school districts to raise money without raising taxes.

It takes 31 buses to get the 2,500 Beech Grove students to school and back every day.

“We’re constantly looking for ways to save money in the transportation department, and we’re constantly looking for ways to make money — which is very slim to none to make money in a school corporation,” says Beech Grove Schools Director of Transportation Wayne Saunders.

Saunders says fuel alone costs about $125,000 per year.

“Our hands is kind of tied here as far as what we can do.  So any little bit that we can manufacture money for the transportation department, I think it’s going to help,” he says.

Which is why Saunders is glad his school district is part of a pilot program that would allow it to sell ads on the side of it’s 31 buses.  According to the law, no alcohol, tobacco or political ads are allowed.  And the ads would be on a small part of the side of the bus to avoid safety issues.

“It has to be done in a way that it’s not going to obscure the view of the driver, take away from any of the headlights or stop arms,” says Saunders.

Saunders says it’s his understanding that a third party would handle the whole thing for the school district, including selling the ads. It’s not clear yet how much money the ads would make for the school district, but in estimates from some of the other 11  states where it’s legal, the ads generate something less than $1,000 per bus. It would be less than $30,000 per year for Beech Grove.

“It’s not going to cure our problem, but it will help at least,” Saunders says.

The bill with the pilot program in it had no problem passing the senate with the vote 49-0.  It is now in the House of Representatives.  If it passes there, the governor has to sign it before the schools can begin selling ads.

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