Shafer said schools also know how to censor inappropriate images, as well, having experience with dress codes that ban offensive messaging.
“We certainly wouldn’t allow things on our school buses that we wouldn’t allow inside our schools,” he said.
Since Colorado first allowed school bus advertising in 1993, 10 other states have followed. The revenue is typically a fraction of overall transportation costs: Colorado Springs schools, among the first in the country to sell ads on buses, generated only about $15,000 in advertising last year.
Safety concerns have caused some states to balk. In 2011, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services came out against advertising on buses, noting the potential to distract passing motorists. But the association recognized the need for schools to find sources of revenue, so it set guidelines on school bus advertising that include limits on size and location.
Dennis Costerison, head of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials, said districts have pushed legislators in the past for permission to sell ads on their buses, getting nowhere. This time is different.
“We have schools losing millions from their transportation funds,” Costerison said. “They need to do something to keep their buses running.”
Kokomo Tribune reporter Lauren Fitch contributed to this report.
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden.