Ads expected to raise up to $10,000 in first year
Those traveling throughout the Five Star District will notice something new on school buses—advertisements for local businesses.
Like many school districts across the state, Adams 12 Five Star Schools anticipates another round of deep budget cuts. Increasing costs, changes to the way the state distributes money to school districts and flat enrollment growth could mean cuts between $14 million and $18 million for the 2012-2013 school year.
As a result of budget constraints, the district is seeking revenue-generating opportunities. So in January, the Five Star District joined the handful of Colorado school districts seeking extra income through placing advertisement decals on school buses.
The district is partnering with Spot On Solutions, an advertising company based in Centennial, Colo. to implement the program. The company helps sell the ads, but a new committee of district staff and parents approves each ad, said Director of Transportation David Anderson.
As of press time, four companies have signed on including a credit union, an area orthodontist, a radon detection company and a Broomfield recreation program. While contracts and advertising prices vary, Spot On Solutions estimates the district could bring in up to $10,000 in the first year of the program. Anderson said the district needs every penny due to increasing fuel costs alone.
National reports indicate gas prices have increased an average of 18 cents per gallon over the last half of February, with no end in sight. Each of the district’s 150 school buses needs a refill once or twice per week, Anderson said. And that adds up quickly.
“We’re trying to think of any and al lways to generate revenue,” Anderson said.
And businesses are biting. Horizons North Credit Union was one of the first companies to buy an ad after first hearing support for the idea during community meetings.
“We jumped right on,” said Krista Burnell, Vice President of Organizational Development for Horizons North Credit Union.
“We really see it as a win-win for ourselves and for the district.”
Five Star parents, students and staff are all eligible for membership with Horizons North Credit Union, Burnell said, so it was a natural fit. She said the traveling billboards are an essential aspect of their marketing, but beyond that, helping their local school district is just the right thing to do.
“We understand the need to support education and the benefits a good education system brings to our community as a whole,” Burnell said.“Schools are facing large budget cuts, and the small number of things we can do to help with regards to those cuts, we certainly want to do.”
The Five Star District last year began charging fees for students to ride the bus. This year, that cost is $15 per student per month. Anderson said that isn’t likely to change as a result of increased revenue from bus ads, but every little bit helps.
“Advertising is a good way to offset costs,” Anderson said.
While bus advertising is getting a lot of attention nationwide, it is not a new concept. Colorado was one of the first states to adopt this revenue-generating idea. In the early 1990s, Cherry Creek Schools was the first in Colorado to place ads on their school buses, said Anderson, who worked in Cherry Creek’s transportation department at the time.
Back then, Anderson said, there were mixed feelings about the concept.
Today, he said, parents and community members understand the need to close the budget gap and appreciate creative ways to generate additional revenue. In fact, many Five Star community members indicated their support for the idea during a public engagement process last year.
“We have to do what we can to lessen the severity of budget cuts,”Anderson said.
“It’s something we can do to help out.”