Richmond County considers selling advertising space on school buses

By: Lynnsey Gardner
By: Lynnsey Gardner

October 10, 2006

Advertisers may soon have another way to reach our kids...and the rest of us.

No matter where we turn, ads are already everywhere, whether we're riding down the road, watching TV, or even flipping through a magazine.

And now our children's school buses might be for sale.

If two Augusta businessmen get their way, Richmond County school buses may soon be carrying more than just students.

Tonight the Richmond County School Board heard a plan from Mike Williamson of MD Signs and Scott Gibony of Redwolf Inc. to advertise on school buses.

The ads would be on the outside of the buses, and they could actually help the school system make the buses safer.

One plan is to use the extra money to put a school safety officer on every bus.

"I'm open to the possibility," school board member Helen Minchew told News 12.

"School districts in Florida, Arizona, New Jersey and across the United States are successfully using bus advertising as a way to mitigate increasing cost for school systems," Williamson said in his pitch.

"More than likely it will be a fifty-fifty split," he later told News 12 . "We are looking at anywhere from $200 to $600,000 in revenue."

But where do you draw the line?

If approved, Richmond County school buses will more than likely never advertise products such as alcohol or tobacco. Instead, the buses may advertise products like soft drinks or fast food chains. Ultimately, which ads are shown will be up to the school board.

"The school board is the controlling entity," Gibony told News 12. "They have the last say in the ads as far as the quality of the ads, the safety of the ads, and the content of the ads."

"Yes, it's a business proposal for us, but also it's a way to raise money for the schools without raising taxes," Williamson said.

Augusta mom Dawn McNair's two children ride the bus, and she says she isn't against the idea.

"Any time taxes are not raised it's a good thing for the parent," she said. "When this money is going toward the school, to me it's a great opportunity for the school. It's a simple way of raising money."

According to a CBS News report, a school district in Colorado Springs first allowed advertisements on school buses back in 1993, and last year, that school district collected $650,000 in revenue.

But Augusta isn't getting on board with the idea just yet.

At tonight's meeting, the Richmond County School Board decided to have their attorney look at the plan and see if there are any legal issues. If there aren't, then another meeting will allow for other plans to be heard.

If approved, the earliest we could see ads on our buses would be 2007.


Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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