BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON — School buses in Davis School District may be sporting advertisements next year, after a proposal made to the school board in a workshop on May 21.
Advertising could bring the district as much as $200,000 in its first year of implementation and $350,000 by the fourth year, according to Brian Larsen, director of transportation for the district.
In 2011, the Utah Legislature passed HB 199, allowing advertising on school buses throughout the state.
The district established guidelines last year limiting the size of advertisements, their location on buses, and specifying that any revenue would be given to the transportation department.
Ads must be age-appropriate, not political and not related to smoking or gambling, among other restrictions.
Jordan School District made $21,000 in its first year, advertising on 100 buses, said Larsen.
Davis district has 206 buses.
After issuing a request for proposals, the district identified Alpha Media as the best fit to carry out the program, according to Larsen.
The Texas-based company is working with 23 school districts to generate ads for buses, and would represent the Davis district for a one-year contract, with the option of renewal for the next four years.
The district would receive 63 percent of gross revenues.
“It’s turn-key,” said Larsen. “We supply the buses, we get the checks.”
A bus would be out of service for approximately 40 minutes while the ad was applied.
He said advertisers could request buses that go on field trips or buses that service Farmington or other specific cities.
In a position paper in March 2011, the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation considered advertising on school buses and took a stand opposing it for its potential to distract motorists and the difficulty of policing ads.
“The displacement of school bus coloration and the potential increase to motorist distraction, a known cause of motor vehicle crashes, present a safety problem around school buses that cannot be ignored,” reads the conclusion of the position paper. “Additionally, it may be difficult or impossible, and legally expensive, to control the types of advertising that could appear on school buses.”
There is no data to support the concern over distraction, said Larsen.
The board would have final approval on ads, he said.
“It’s not worth it for $21,000,” said Burke Larsen, a board member, during discussion over the proposal.
Craig Carter, business administrator for the district, spoke in support of the advertising.
“ Transportation is far from fully funded,” he said.