ALLENTOWN, Pa. — In what may be the first move of its kind in the state, the Parkland School District will run advertisements on the interior of its school buses.
Based on selling all 16 sign opportunities on a pilot fleet of 46 buses, the district said it has the potential to generate about $150,000 over the course of a year.
If successful, the program would be expanded to the full fleet of 96 buses, enabling the district to generate almost twice that amount annually, according to officials.
"It is believed that Parkland is the first district in the state to try this endeavor," the district said in a statement.
At a meeting last week, the Parkland board of school directors approved an interior school bus advertising agreement with The Factory Advertising, along with approval to establish a bus advertising review committee and review guidelines.
WFMZ reported that some residents voiced concerns about the move during the board meeting.
“A potential advertiser coming in could advertise whatever they like, under the First Amendment,” resident Andrew Bench said, citing past court cases.
Only one board member voted against the advertising program, but others seemed to approve it reluctantly.
“I don’t want to have to do this, but [with the budget cuts] as an area we can’t control, opportunities must be kept alive and available for our students,” board member Roberta Marcus said.
District officials said in a statement that bus advertising "will focus on health, safety, wellness, education/higher education and/or recreational opportunities that exist to allow children to be active in our community."
District policy rules out a variety of ad types, such as those associated with the sale of tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs or weapons, those that contain vulgar or offensive language, and those that advance any religious or political organization.
The approval committee will comprise 10 people: the superintendent, assistant superintendent, assistant to the superintendent of operations, director of community relations, bus garage foreman, one elementary principal, one secondary principal, a Parkland Community Advisory Committee member, a teacher and an elementary parent.
Consent by 80 percent of the committee or more will have to be achieved for the creative material to be approved.
Ads will be made of a magnetic material and posted along the roofline inside the buses, just above the windows. To prevent vandalism, a removable clear plastic material will be mounted over the signs, and a metal strip will secure them to the bus so that the signs can’t be removed without the use of a screwdriver.
Officials said that there are no start-up costs associated with the endeavor. Parkland will receive 75 percent of the commission, and the consulting company will receive the other 25 percent.
The Factory Advertising will handle sales and logistics of the program. Parkland will be responsible for approving the ads and installing them on the buses.