Bus ads to roll out in Austin ISD

Advertisements will be placed on the outside of some Austin ISD school buses as the result of a contract approval at the May 20 meeting of the AISD board of trustees.

The board approved a three-year agreement with Steep Creek Media LLC to add ads to 400 of AISD's school buses, a concept that board President Vincent Torres explained first came up as an option for AISD more than a year ago when the district was seeking funds to offset state budget cuts.

The board approved the motion 7–1. Trustee Jayme Mathias, who in previous meetings expressed concerns about turning AISD buses into "moving billboards," voted against the contract approval, while trustee Tamala Barksdale was absent from the dais.

Torres said Austin residents will likely begin seeing the ads in the fall of 2013. The ads will roll out on about 40 buses and bring in $43,200 in revenue in its first year. The contract proposes an initial term of three years with the option of renewal. By its third year, it will be implemented on about 200 buses and will bring in an estimated $216,000 in revenue. After five years, the board estimates that revenue would rise to $388,000.

Under the contract, the buses cannot display ads that promote religious institutions, the use of tobacco or alcohol, sexually-oriented businesses, political parties or "businesses that promote body art services," among others.

"We want ads that are informative to our students, that help promote a healthy lifestyle, healthy environment [and a] strong desire to be a good student, and we think there are a lot of ads out there that can fill our school buses with those types of promotions," Torres said.

Revenue from the ads are not yet earmarked for a potential use, but instead will go into the general fund, Torres said.

AISD received a proposal from Steep Creek in response to a request for a partner to: manage soliciting advertisers, pay all production and installation expenses, bill and collect funds from advertisers and remit a share of the revenue back to AISD. AISD looked to other Texas districts with bus ads to ensure AISD was being competitive, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said.


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