I-Team: District Considers Advertising on Buses

LAS VEGAS -- It's a million dollar idea that could change the face of the school day for nearly every student in the Clark County School District. Ads could be coming to the side of every bus and district vehicle, but some are concerned too much advertising compromises learning.

But with a district facing layoffs, cut backs and jammed classrooms, every dollar could make a difference.

"I think it would just be prudent of the school district to leave no stone unturned," said Superintendent Dwight Jones.

Jones says the possibility of ads on buses worked in his old districts and now may be the time in Nevada. Dallas-based Alpha Media has made strides in Texas and Florida. Bus ads have been around since 1993. CEO Michael Beauchamp has seen districts go from being desperate to becoming believers.

"Funding from the states and federal government is not adequate. Fuel prices have shot through the roof. School districts are having to get creative and fine new streams of revenue," he said.

The issue is real estate -- each bus is 35 feet long, a blank canvas on each side. And that means money. A 2008 internal study by the district found adding ads could bring in more than $1 million a year. Beauchamp says it could mean up to $7 million over a five year contract.

CCSD board member Carolyn Edwards says it's worth a look, but the issue is what goes on the side.

"We have an obesity problem. Do we advertise fast food? I don't think so," she said.

Other states ban some industries, but CCSD still needs to set those standards. Edwards says $1 million a year is just a small fix -- one that could come at a cost of a different kind.

"You give up something and you become more commercial. And really, we're just trying to educate children," she said.

Edwards and Beauchamp are confident CCSD will see a proposal up for a vote in the next few months. The board is expected to create a small committee to decide who can advertise and where they should be on the buses.


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