Some in the Statehouse question the wisdom of making up that money by selling space on buses.
“I’m sure it’s well intended,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson. “But it does raise the larger question of what’s going on here when we can’t properly fund our school transportation systems.”
School officials in Muncie, in Lanane’s district, asked the state Department of Education last year for permission to end bus transportation when voters turned down a tax referendum to help pay for their buses. The state has denied the district’s request.
“It’s not good public policy to say transporting students to schools is optional,” Lanane said. “We need to find a solution other than having schools have to rely on selling advertising to keep their buses running.”
During a recent hearing, lawmakers questioned whether the school bus advertisements will distract and wondered how schools would decide who advertises. The bill restricts ads that promote alcohol, tobacco and other products forbidden to minors. It also bans political advertising and limits the ads to the outside walls of buses.
And it requires the state School Bus Committee – which usually deals with safety – to set advertising rules for schools.
Western School Corp. Superintendent Randy McCracken said he would “never say never” to advertising on school buses, but he also worried about what type of advertising would be permitted.
“Anyone who’s going to do that would have to come up with a good policy to delineate what advertising they would accept,” he said.
Money from the ads would have to go into districts’ transportation funds.
Zionsville officials say they have experience with advertising. The outfield fence around their baseball field is covered with advertising from banks, Realtors and other businesses. Yearbooks and programs for school events also carry ads from sponsors.