By Heather Mullinix
A program to provide advertising space on Cumberland County Schools buses will support transportation of homeless students taking part in after-school tutoring and enrichment programs.
"We have a proposal for a constructive way to put that money to use," explained Director of Schools Aarona VanWinkle to the Cumberland County Board of Education Thursday.
The school system expects to receive $8,470 in revenue from the advertising sold to date. VanWinkle proposed earmarking those funds to replace funding from the McKinney Vento Homeless grant to assist in providing transportation for elementary school after-school tutoring programs. The grant historically provided $10,000 per year to pay bus drivers and fuel. The school system has not received the grant in two years and schools have used other grant funds and fundraisers to make up the difference.
"It will free up some money for instructional supplies and to provide more tutors for students," VanWinkle explained.
Sandy Brewer, 3rd District representative, asked how the school system would utilize funds above $10,000 if the advertising program continued to grow. VanWinkle said the 21st Century Learning Grant provides for transportation, but additional funds from bus advertising would free up those funds to aid the after-school programs.
Brewer moved to approve the earmark request, supported by David Bowman, 7th District representative. The motion was unanimously approved.
There are currently 390 students identified as homeless in Cumberland County Elementary Schools. Lisa Phillips, homeless and family resource coordinator for the school system, will administer the funds.
There are currently five local businesses with advertisements on buses: Subway, Crossville Heating and Cooling, East Tennessee Dodge, Paul A. Perry of Certified Inspections and Cloudland Dental. Subway has 12 signs and is evaluating the program for four months. The others have signed year-long advertising agreements.
State law allows for the color advertisements on the rear quarter panels of buses, up to 16 inches by 60 inches in size. Advertising of gambling, alcohol or tobacco, sex or political ads are prohibited.
Advertisers pay for production of the sign and a monthly fee, with rates as low as $50 per month per sign. They are only charged for the 10 months schools are in session. They can choose which schools their ads go to, targeting a specific portion of the county.
Currently, signs are on the Bluebird buses, but the design of the Thomas buses the school uses isn't compatible with the sign size. Lane McAnally, transportation director, explained most of the buses in the fleet are Thomas buses.
For more information about advertising your business on Cumberland County Schools buses, contact Todd Isaacs, founder and owner of District Solutions, in Atlanta, GA, at (404) 983-3001, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit schoolbusbanners.com.