Bill would allow ads on school buses in central Indiana


It may be coming to a school bus stop near you - a school bus with commercial ads on it, a sort of rolling billboard.

A bill up for a vote in the Indiana House of Representatives would allow advertising on school buses in two Indianapolis neighborhoods and a school district just north of the city to help combat burdensome transportation costs.

It's not as far fetched as it might sound. Currently, 11 states allow it, including Colorado where the Denver school system just signed a four year deal for $500,000. See some examples here.

Now Indiana is proposing a pilot program of just three districts: Zionsville, Beech Grove and Franklin Township.

"One: to see how it would work, whether it would raise the adequate funds to be helpful; Two: to make sure it is done in a safe manner and those ads are the kinds of things that would be acceptable for children to see," said State Sen. Patricia Miller (R-Indianapolis) at the Statehouse Monday.

Beech Grove has already been approached by a company claiming the school district could generate $1,000 per bus per school year. By comparison, the district's transportation budget is currently $800,000 per year, according to Assistant Superintendent Thomas Keeley.

"It's not going to create a windfall and help run the transportation department, but it certainly can help in other ways," Keeley said.

The administration at Zionsville High School believes this option will generate anywhere from $10,000 - $60,000 annually. They plan to give local advertisers first shot.

Franklin Township schools drew the ire of parents three years ago when the cash-strapped district started charging for bus rides. That plan was later dropped.

Right now, only three districts are considered in this pilot program but there are other districts across the state experiencing similar financial difficulties in funding and they may want to be on that bus before the session is over.

The bill passed the Senate 49-0 as part of an amendment to another bill. It now goes to the House.

The Associated Press contributed to portions of this report.