The only reason opponents have come up with to oppose allowing financially-challenged school systems is concerns about “safety.”
That’s a patently ridiculous position, and one that could cost school systems a lot of money. Rep. Terry Mills has, for the second year in a row, brought a measure to the state legislature that would permit school systems to sell advertising on the sides of their very visible buses. But the measure didn’t pass last year over safety concerns, and it’s likely that someone in the state Senate will oppose it again.
Of course, there are and should be restrictions on what types of products are advertised on the school buses. Obviously, sinful products like tobacco and alcohol, or activities like gambling, shouldn’t be permitted. But can you imagine how the advertising might actually do some good? Perhaps the bill should require a certain percentage of buses be equipped with positive messages aimed at students, such as anti-smoking or healthy eating spots.
Metro Louisville, which already used TARC to advertise such things as its healthy hometown movement, would be an ideal advertiser for JCPS buses. There are plenty of products to advertise on the buses that project positive images for kids. Imagine the high dollar amount a full wrap would bring, especially if advertisers could be assured their ads would be seen in certain parts of town.
And JCPS could use the ads itself, to promote its own events and market its services to the public. It could, for example, promote its Showcase of Schools event by putting billboards on its buses.
JCPS is, surprisingly, not getting behind the bill. Spokesman Ben Jackey told me today that JCPS would not take a position until something happens with the bill in the state. That’s the wrong position to take, too, as JCPS should be getting behind and pushing for, using its influence with lawmakers, to get this bill passed. Maybe JCPS leaders don’t think the system needs the money. Let’s be sure and remind them when they raise the school taxes again this year.