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Ads in schools? A definite ‘yes’

October 14. 2012 6:21PM

Allowing advertising in Manchester schools is an easy call. When the Board of School Committee takes up the issue, it should vote 'yes' unanimously.

The notion that advertising is somehow inherently wrong or tawdry is ridiculous. The notion that our middle school and high school students are incapable of resisting the allure of an ad placed in their schools is equally ridiculous.

Public spending on Mancheter's schools rises every year, but it does not rise as fast as the district's labor costs, which are imposed by union contracts foolishly agreed to by compliant school boards of the past. The result this year was a tremendously financially challenging budget. Accepting appropriate advertising can alleviate some of the budgetary stress in a way that helps students, local businesses and taxpayers.

The city's baseball stadium and civic arena have corporate sponsors and walls covered in advertisements. The city's airport contains ads, and the Parks and Recreation Department has a program in which companies can sponsor parks. Schools should not be exempt from this revenue-generating enterprise.

Because children are required to attend school, advertising there should be approached with care. The guidelines adopted by the school board's Coordination Committee provide a good start.

Businesses should be able to send flyers home with students, buy ad space on the walls of hallways and other common areas, and even buy naming rights to common facilities, such as libraries and athletic facilities. Sponsorships of sports uniforms might also be considered. Extra sensitivity, though, should be given to advertising in elementary schools, where students are more impressionable.

For years we have advocated that the city schools open their doors to advertising. It is disappointing that it took a budget crisis to get the school board to consider the issue seriously. If it approves the policy quickly, perhaps some of this year's budget strain can be relieved, and pressure on future budgets can be reduced.

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