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Phila. Lawmakers Move Toward Allowing Advertising on School Buses and Buildings

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --     A City Council committee today approved a bill that would allow the School District of Philadelphia to raise money by selling advertising on school district property.

It's not clear how much money the cash-starved district could raise by selling ads on its buses and buildings.  Several suburban districts raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, while New York City brings in $6 million a year.

Philadelphia school district chief operating officer Fran Burns (in photo) told Council's Rules Committee that passage of the bill doesn't guarantee that the district will follow through, because the district is looking into whether selling ads on buildings might jeopardize the tax-exempt bonds used to build them.

But she says they're willing to talk about new funding streams.

"We are open to revenue options and absolutely open to long-term sustainability revenue options," she said.

Ads for alcohol and tobacco would be prohibited.

The committee approved the bill with one "no" vote from Councilman Dennis O'Brien, who said he wanted to keep attention on inadequate education funding from the state.

Plus, he said, children are already bombarded with advertising.

"I'm just concerned about the increased sensory overload for some of our special needs students that attend these schools," O'Brien said.

But co-sponsor Blondell Reynolds Brown says the district's cash crisis outweighs concerns that kids already face too many ads.

"The priority of finding new dollars stacks far taller than our young people being bombarded," she said.


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