The San Diego Unified school board decided tonight not to use ads to reap more revenue for schools.
While parents in San Diego repeatedly raised the idea of using ads to raise money as budget cuts threatened schools last year, the side that recoiled at the thought of commercializing campuses won out.
“Public schools, like public parks, are part of the shrinking commercial-free space in public life,” said Elena McCollim, the mother of a kindergartener in San Diego Unified schools. She added, “I sympathize with the need for money for schools. But I question what message we’re sending to our children.”
San Diego Unified staffers had proposed starting up the advertising program early next year. It was slated to begin with ads on the school district website, which staff estimated could reap more than $100,000 annually. School site ads were slated to bring in $10,000 or more for each school. Under the plan, ads could also crop up on publications such as newsletters or yearbooks.
Advocates for the ads said the school district could carefully choose which ads were allowed and which weren’t. Under the proposed policy, the superintendent would have been able to reject ads that include tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs, support or oppose political candidates, contain vulgar language or imagery or detract “from the educational atmosphere,” among other reasons.
“We the district have complete control,” said Bernie Rhinerson, who oversees district relations for San Diego Unified and worked to draft the proposed advertising policy. Rhinerson cited a survey of school principals and vice principals in which 75 percent said that with limits, school ads should be allowed.