Board to get info on using bus ads

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AIKEN --- Advertisements could follow schoolchildren on their bus rides to school and home if local school boards approve a move to bring in more revenue.

The Edgefield County School Board will receive preliminary information Tuesday on how school bus advertising could bring in up to $2,100 in revenue per bus, Edgefield transportation supervisor James Courtney said.

"It does offer another source of revenue that could help to offset costs of field trips and help keep camera and VCR systems on buses updated," Mr. Courtney said. "If we were to do it on our activity buses, it would also give local advertisers chances to advertise."

The information-only agenda item will explain the contract options outlined by the state Education Department and SAC Inc., a Warrenville advertising company.

Advertisements would be placed above windows inside more than 40 of the county's buses. A committee to approve advertisements would also be formed if the school board moves forward.

If the Edgefield board wants to proceed, advertising might be on hold until the state Legislature gets a say in the matter.

The Education Department, which awarded the contract late last year, was initially going to receive 80.1 percent of gross revenue, which could bring in almost $3 million to the state each year.

But last week Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, introduced a bill that would prohibit all advertising on the state-owned buses. Mr. Ryberg said in a statement last week that he was appalled by the thought of images of greasy hamburgers or video games surrounding children on their way to and from school. About 20 other state senators are on board with the prohibition.

"If this moves forward, it would be up to the school districts who want to do this to contact their House and Senate member and bring the issue up," Mr. Tudor said. "We've done everything that was appropriate to do."

Mr. Ryberg and SAC Inc. President Stuart Carpenter did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Aiken County administrators said school bus advertising wouldn't be presented as an option to the school board anytime soon.

"We are exploring it," said David Caver, Aiken Deputy Superintendent. "We know about it, and we've received information. We see some pros and cons and haven't really decided whether to go forward with it at all."

"It's kind of ironic that Sen. Ryberg's bill would come out when it did, so we don't want to get into something and then have the state legislature decide against it," he said.

While the framework to proceed with advertising is in place, Mr. Tudor said, it's a wait-and-see process now.

"If the Ryberg bill passed, the structure we set up could die on the vine," he said.

Reach Julia Sellers at (803) 648-1395, ext. 106 or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com

SCHOOL BUS ADVERTISING

ABOUT THE ADS:


Advertising would be on the interior of the buses, above the windows and kept at the same dimensions as the window.


ABOUT THE CONTRACT:


- Awarded by the Education Department to SAC Inc.


- Gives 80.1 percent of gross revenue to the state Education Department. That money would then return to participating districts.


BY THE NUMBERS


5,000: School buses in the state fleet


$2,100: Potential revenues per bus


Source: South Carolina Department of Education


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