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Publish Date: 3/10/2005

School buses to be fitted for ads

LONGMONT — School buses in the St. Vrain Valley School District will no longer just be a means of transporting children. They also will be a revenue generator for the district, thanks to a decision by the St. Vrain Valley Board of Education on Wednesday night.

As of next year, advertising space will be sold on every school bus, allowing the district to raise an undetermined amount of money for its capital reserve fund.

School buses in the Thompson Valley School District already are outfitted with advertisements and others, like Cherry Creek and Denver Public Schools, have also looked into the option.

The school board signed an agreement with Loveland-based Graphics Partners Inc. to solicit the advertisements, collect the revenue and install and remove the advertisements on the vehicles.

The district and Graphics Partners will split any profits generated through the ads 50/50.

According to Rick Ring, the district’s transportation director, St. Vrain could earn between $250 to $1,000 per bus per month, depending on the size of advertisements solicited. St. Vrain has 90 buses. At $250 per bus, per month, the district would earn $202,500 each year. At $1,000 per bus, per month, the district could generate an additional $810,000 in revenue.

Graphics Partners, which handles Thompson Valley’s bus advertising campaign, came up with a fabric that won’t hurt the buses’ paint and is easy to remove, said owner Phil Johannsen at a Feb. 23 school board meeting.

“It is easy to install so there is no down time for the buses,” Johannsen said.

He added that the ads are sold per school year.

In Thompson Valley, people were more concerned about who would advertise on the buses than the content of the ads, Johannsen said.

St. Vrain placed a survey on its Web site, asking readers’ opinions about advertising on school buses. Nobody responded, Ring said.

So, he polled the district’s bus drivers instead.

More than 40 drivers thought it was a good idea and 19 thought it was bad, he said.

The district is devising guidelines for the types of advertisements that can be displayed on school buses.

No alcohol or tobacco ads and no pornography, political or religious ads will be approved.

Board President Sandi Searls asked Ring to also exclude advertisements targeted at students.

Johannsen said that his company signed with Thompson Valley the first of the year and already had sold $5,000 in advertisements.

“We target local businesses in the community,” he said.

In Thompson Valley, the company charges $125 per unit to design the advertisements and $10 per square foot for each sign.

Ring said the ads would be placed near the roofline of the buses and would always be placed on the left side of the vehicles, facing away from the children.

The school board also named Middle School No. 7 in northeast Longmont on Wednesday evening. Students attending the school will now be known as the Trail Ridge Middle School Grizzlies.

Principal Valerie Millert said the school was named after one of the highest roads in Colorado and thus represented the high goals and high levels of achievement the students who attend the school will attain.

Paula Aven Gladych can be reached at 303-684-5211, or by e-mail at pavengladych@times-call.com.

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