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Reeves bill allows ads on school buses

BY CHELYEN DAVIS

State Sen. Bryce Reeves says he’s heard a lot of complaints about Spotsylvania County schools’ $100 fee for students who want to play a sport.

So he decided to offer schools a different way to raise revenue—selling ads on buses and school property such as ball fields.

Reeves, R–Spotsylvania, has filed a bill for the 2013 General Assembly session that would allow school divisions the option of selling such ads. It would not require them to do so.

“What I’m trying to do is allow local school boards the opportunity to decide if they want to advertise,” Reeves said. “What I’m trying to do is allow local school boards the opportunity to raise money.”

Reeves said local school boards and superintendents could decide how to operate an advertising program, including ways to ensure advertising is appropriate.

It could be an alternative, he said, to the sports fees now being charged in Spotsylvania.

Some localities already sell advertising on school property.

In Spotsylvania, current school policy allows schools to raise money for student activities by displaying promotional banners or signs in gyms, stadiums and on fences. All must be approved by the superintendent, and promotion of alcohol, drugs or tobacco isn’t allowed.

The division’s Athletics Task Force is gathering information about what’s being done at each school to develop consistency in pricing and opportunities for banners, schools spokeswoman René Daniels said. The task force  expects to present its information to the School Board within the next few months, Daniels said.

But Daniels said the revenue that would be generated by the ads is  “not even close” to what it  would take to eliminate sports-participation fees,  which the division implemented in the 2010-11 school year.

In Fredericksburg, the schools don’t charge sports fees. The city school division’s ad policy comes straight from the Virginia School Boards Association, which  says that schools “may not endorse or imply endorsement of any product.”

Like Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg allows ads in publications, although it bans them from companies whose  primary revenue comes from the sale of alcohol or intoxicants.

Stafford County students don’t pay a fee to participate in athletics, and the school system does allow advertising on its athletic fields. School policy forbids ads which promote “intoxicants or tobacco products.”

The county also allows businesses to sponsor scoreboards for high school and middle school sports.

—Staff writer Pamela Gould contributed to this story.

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028

cdavis@freelancestar.com

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