The South Carolina Senate has added a proviso to next year's
state budget that would allow local districts to make some extra money by
selling ad space on their activity buses.
The decision would be up to each district, and they could
have advertising only on activity buses, not the yellow school buses that take
children to and from school. Activity buses take children on field trips and to
Sen. Wes Hayes, R-Rock Hill, introduced the proviso. “I
think local elected officials, such as school board members, they can make a
good decision. We don't need to micro manage that decision at the state
level,” he says. He points out that the districts own the activity buses
so they should be able to decide what to do with them. The state owns the
yellow school buses.
The Rock Hill School District already sells advertising
space on its service vehicles. Tony Cox, assistant superintendent for
administrative services, says the ads have brought in about $25,000 so far, but
once the program reaches its full potential could bring in up to $90,000 a
year. That's enough to pay for one-and-a-half teachers' salaries, he says.
The district charges $4,800-5,000 for ad space on a
full-sized cargo van, similar to a UPS truck. A smaller van, like an
electrician's van or landscaping truck, goes for about $2,000 a year. The district
adjusts the fee based on the vehicle's mileage, since they're basically rolling
Sen. Hayes says the proviso does have restrictions to
prevent any kind of advertising that would be inappropriate for children, like
ads for any kind of tobacco or alcohol.
He pictures the ads being on the outsides of the activity
buses so they're aimed at the public, not the children, but says the proviso
does allow for ads inside the buses, too.
Sen. Paul Thurmond, R-Charleston, objected to the proviso,
saying it's wrong to commercialize what's supposed to be an educational
environment. He thinks allowing ads on activity buses will be only the
“They start with the activity buses then go to
the buses, maybe go to the school doors, maybe the school desks, the school
pencils,” he says. “I mean, there really is no end to this process, all in the
name of trying to raise revenue.”
Since this is a proviso in the Senate's version of
the budget, the House would also have to go along for it to become law.