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El Paso County Colorado District 49

Bus banners supplement school spending

Cash-strapped public schools are often on the lookout for new funding sources. Falcon School District 49 found one. The district has been earning extra revenue by placing advertising on their school buses, said transportation director Cindy Hardin.With these bus billboards – “busboards” – schools can benefit from local businesses’ advertising dollars and ease some of the pressure on strained budgets.Dina Clifford is the chief marketing officer for Spot On Solutions, which is the agency D 49 hired to handle the ad contracts. “We help schools utilize existing assets to drive additional revenue … 50 percent of all ad revenue goes directly to the schools,” Clifford said.School administrators act as a mediator between advertisers and the school district, vetoing any potentially offensive or inappropriate product, text or graphics, Hardin said. Strict controls are in place to prevent objectionable material from finding its way to the side of a school bus.Not all companies qualify.”Advertisers must be community partners and provide an educational benefit,” Hardin said. Or they need to show a direct community link to education through scholarship efforts, volunteering, educational programs, etc.The U.S. Army’s ROTC program and Farmers State Bank are two examples of qualified busboard advertisers. Farmers State Bank donated land to build the High Plains Public Library.Once the ad is approved, it’s printed on heavy, outdoor-grade vinyl and affixed to the bus with a self-adhesive backing, similar to an “auto wrap,” Clifford said.School bus advertising is an easy source of revenue for the districts. SOS handles all aspects of the process, from finding advertisers, negotiating contracts, creating the ads, producing and installing the banners to billing and remitting the school district’s share. As long as the advertiser continues the contract, the ad remains on the bus, and the school district splits the revenue with the ad agency.Busboard advertisers benefit from the positive perceptions of potential customers, who see their ads and recognize that the ad dollars benefit their local school system.They also benefit from the low cost of busboard advertising, which is significantly less than traditional stationary billboards, Clifford said. To target their message to customers in a specific geographic area, companies can choose the buses that will display their advertisement.Regular ad rates for D 49 buses range from $225 to $325 per month. Graphic design is provided free by SOS, with a one-time fee to print the banner.Advertisers who sign a contract for the spring season – January through May – will receive reduced rates, ranging from $185 to $250 per month. They will also receive the remainder of 2010 at no charge, Clifford said. Additional discounts are available for multiple-banner contracts.Roofing company Jasper Contractors and Falcon Dental Care are among the advertisers already lined up for the D 49 busboard program.District 49 is not the only district utilizing busboard banner ads. “We’ve had advertising on our buses since the 80s,” said Bill Bair, director of transportation for Colorado Springs School District 11. “Currently, about 20 percent of our 120 buses have banners.”Glenn Gustafson, D 11’s chief financial officer said, “School bus advertising brings in $20 ($20,000) to $25,000 per year.”Hardin said she is hoping that busboard advertising will result in significant new revenue for D 49.For details on the busboard program, contact Dina Clifford at 877-SOS-4-EDU or visit

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