PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Sen. John J. Tassoni Jr. is planning to reintroduce legislation that would allow Rhode Island school districts to sell advertising space on school buses.
Tassoni introduced the legislation in the 2009 and 2010 General Assembly sessions, but neither of those two earlier bills made it out of Senate committee. However, an identical bill was passed by the House of Representatives two years ago.
"With school budgets being cut, with programs and important student activities being eliminated, fund-generating options of all kinds should be open for discussion," Tassoni said. "If a few ads on school buses can save a program or sport, or help give students the best education possible, I think that's an option that should be made available."
As with the 2009 and 2010 bills that he introduced, the bill Tassoni will submit in the 2012 session would restrict advertising to the outside of school buses, provided the ads don't obstruct the vision of motorists. It would also authorize school committees to negotiate with private school bus carriers regarding the content of any ads and the sharing of revenue from them.
Cranston, R.I., officials said recently that they are considering asking the General Assembly to adopt legislation approving the sale of ads on school buses. State law currently prohibits that practice. Cranston officials said selling ads on their buses has the potential of raising $300,000.
Tassoni said that his legislation would not require school districts to accept ads on school buses.
"This would be a local decision, but I think we should give local school districts the right to make that decision on their own," he said. "Some may choose not to. Others, such as Cranston, may need the additional funds these ads could generate."