In 2004, the Boston Public School System decided to place advertising on its school buses. More than eighty percent of its budget went to salaries and benefits; thus, instead of cuts, they took a decision to develop some bus advertising programs for their school bus.
In 2003, the Massachusetts legislature approved the school bus advertising as a revenue mechanism. It is prohibited by law to post liquor, tobacco, drug and gambling ads on school buses. It also limits ads to cover only twenty five percent of a bus's exterior. Hence, properly developed school bus advertising programs do not harm children.
Due to selling an ad space on its school buses, the Boston Public School System anticipated six hundred and forty thousand dollars in annual revenue. A seasoned teacher in Boston earns about sixty five thousand dollars; new teachers earn thirty five thousand dollars. Therefore, implementing school bus advertising programs covered the equivalent of the salaries of ten qualified teachers.
It is not only Boston that uses school bus advertising programs - a number of schools in other districts also place advertisements on their buses in order to 'bridge the gap between our allotted budget and the dollar amount, actually required to run the district'.
In Braintree, for instance, school officials had to use bus advertising opportunities and ask local businesses to purchase ads on bus exteriors in order to cope with a three point eight million dollar debt. The ads on the entire thirty-bus fleet were bought by Bertucci's, a local Italian restaurant chain. The company's management did its best to create an appropriate, pro-education message for the ads, and the Braintree district managed to rehire a number of teachers.
Properly developed and organized bus advertising programs will not harm children. All ads are placed on the exterior of buses and children do not have to look at advertising during the entire ride to school. Moreover, tremendous restrictions on the kinds of ads are considered before ads are placed on school buses. Furthermore, only elementary-school students ride school buses in Boston.
Taking public transportation, older children view a lot of different advertisements, while traveling to and from school. The restrictions on what those ads can say or show are much fewer, though some members of the Boston City Council have begun discussions about restricting the content of advertisements on public transportation. The aim is to limit what public school children and college students see on their way to and from school and to lessen the impact of such advertisements on children.
Jonathan Palumbo, a spokesman for Boston Public Schools, said: "The big issue we have been tackling is the process of permitting the administration to select advertisers. Obviously, we want to control advertisements and make sure they are OK for students to see. The longer discussion is how to do that legally. We must recognize the First Amendment issues, when we talk about restrictions, so we are working with our legal advisers to develop a fair policy. The bottom line: We want to make this plan work without adversely affecting any of our sixty thousand and three hundred students."