School bus advertising has come to the forefront in funding discussions for school districts across the East Valley. While some districts are on board and are seeing profits of more than $100,000 per year, others are hesitant of the influx of commercialization.
For Ron Latko, director of transportation and fleet management for Mesa Public Schools, the decision to have advertisements on school buses was a “no-brainer.”
The district has advertised on buses for three years, but recently formed a new partnership with Alpha Media to handle the advertising process after the previous company it used went out of business.
Alpha Media handles the selling and installing of advertising and takes a 38 percent cut of the gross revenue. That being said, Latko said the district still sees more than $100,000 per year from the advertising.
“It’s a budget filler,” President and CEO of Alpha Media Michael Beauchamp said in a previous interview. “It’s a way to counteract budget shortfalls. When teachers are being laid off when programs are being cut across the country, this is a way to generate a new stream of revenue.”
The Kyrene School District also allows advertising on buses, but unlike Mesa Public Schools, it handles the sponsorships in-house. Nancy Dudenhoefer, community relations assistant director, said the district looked into working with a company to handle the advertising, but decided the cut it was asking for was too large. Instead, the district formed its own sponsorship program.
“We get calls from businesses wanting to support our schools and now we have a way for them to support education,” Dudenhoefer said.
The Kyrene Sponsorship Program offers a variety of options for businesses to support the district from school bus sponsorship to athletic uniform sponsorship.
Other districts, including Tempe Union High School District opted not to have advertising on the sides of their school buses. Linda Littell, director of communications, said the TUHSD governing board voted against the advertising a few years ago and it has not been brought up again.
“There was a lot of discussion about the pros and cons and it was decided that this is an educational institute, not a commercial atmosphere,” Littell said.
• Jessica, a junior studying journalism at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern with the Tribune this semester. She can be reached at email@example.com or (480) 898-6548.