School system to consider bus ads

Jeremy Nash-News-Herald

Loudon County Schools is in the preliminary stages of placing advertisements on its buses in hopes of generating more revenue.

Board members have entertained the idea since last month, Loudon County Transportation Coordinator Dawn Cox said.

Mock drafts are being produced by Georgia-based advertisement agency District Solutions to give an idea of what the posters would look like on the buses, Cox said. She said Loudon County Schools would have final say of what ends up on the buses and assured the public they would be family friendly.

I do not expect (public backlash), Cox said about any public disapproval of the ads. The transportation director in Blount County has not faced any opposition toward that. The signs are very tasteful. I just cannot imagine that would happen.

The business advertisements would be placed on the rear quarter panels of buses, she said. State regulations ensure tobacco-, alcohol- and religion-related material cannot be put on the bus, and no more than two advertisements are allowed per rear quarter panel.

There was a comment made a couple weeks ago that it was tacky and do we really need this, Loudon County Director of Schools Jason Vance said. I would say the school system is always creatively looking for sources of revenue, and we are trying to be responsible with our funding bodies. I would say we are trying to be responsible with the opportunities that we have got available.

Money figures have not yet been determined. Cox said it would depend on the level of interest businesses give in the schools 36 bus routes.

According to Vance, profits would be divvied between the countys bus contractors, the ad agency and the school district. Revenue figures have yielded mixed results for surrounding counties. Blount County Schools began advertising placements in March 2010. Since then, the district has received $96 monthly as of March.

Other school districts have tried and since withdrawn plans for ads on buses due to poor results.

Williamson County Schools experimented with advertising placements about a decade ago, Communications Specialist Cory Mason said.

It just was not worth it, Mason said. It did not get kind of what (the schools) were promised in terms of funding.

Maryville City Schools experimented with the plan a few years ago but stopped due to low revenue and a stagnant flow of new advertisements, Director of Communication Sharon Anglim said.

It really did not generate the type of revenue we were hoping for, and so we no longer do it, Anglim said. We still have a policy in place that says we could do it if an opportunity came up that we were interested in, but we currently do not do it.

There are no plans for Lenoir City Schools to follow suit, Superintendent Jeanne Barker said.

Nothing is final, and it is an all or nothing type of issue, Cox said. A decision should be made sometime in the middle of next month, she said.

We think it is something that could potentially be good for us, Vance said. We are trying to decide if this is something that will positively impact our school system.