Steamboat Springs school officials soon may be talking about following a neighbor's lead and allowing advertisements on buses.
And although the district's lead administrator was opposed to the fundraising concept, adopted by a Front Range district, its top elected official said he admired the ingenuity.
Cherry Creek School District officials last month approved a five-year contract allowing a California advertising agency to use the outside of 230 district school buses.
The ads are expected to generate about $95,000 in net revenues during the first year and nearly $400,000 in the contract's final year.
Cherry Creek officials said they plan to use the money for upgrades, including navigation systems and security cameras for school buses. A district committee will approve all ads before they are displayed, which will begin later this month. The district is southeast of Denver.
Donna Howell, superintendent of Steamboat Springs schools, was not keen on the concept.
"I don't feel that's an appropriate way to raise funds," Howell said.
"I believe that our children get a sufficient amount of bombardment in advertising," she said.
"For me, the ethical question is: 'Do we get involved in that or not?'"
Tom Miller-Freutel, president of the Steamboat Springs School Board, questioned the idea as well, but said he appreciated its creativity.
"I like the fact that it's kind of out-of-the-box thinking," he said.
"It's certainly a novel approach to generating more money, as opposed to always looking to taxpayers."
Miller-Freutel said schools constantly face advertising issues, such as vending machines or athletic scoreboards that display brand names, and placing ads on school buses presents the question of "where to draw that line."
"At what point does the corporatizing of our children become unacceptable?" he ask--ed.
Miller-Freutel said the idea is an example of innovative funding initiatives that could and should be discussed by the Steamboat Springs School Board.
"I would welcome that discussion," he said.
The School Board next meets Monday.