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A bill sponsored by Sen. Bryce Reeves would allow school systems to sell advertising on buses and other property.
BY CHELYEN DAVIS
State Sen. Bryce Reeves says he's heard a lot of complaints about Spotsylvania County schools' $100 fee for students who want to play a sport.
So he decided to offer schools a different way to raise revenue--selling ads on buses and school property such as ball fields.
Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, has filed a bill for the 2013 General Assembly session that would allow school divisions the option of selling such ads. It would not require them to do so.
"What I'm trying to do is allow local school boards the opportunity to decide if they want to advertise," Reeves said. "What I'm trying to do is allow local school boards the opportunity to raise money."
Reeves said local school boards and superintendents could decide how to operate an advertising program, including ways to ensure advertising is appropriate.
It could be an alternative, he said, to the sports fees now being charged in Spotsylvania.
Some localities already sell advertising on school property.
In Spotsylvania, current school policy allows schools to raise money for student activities by displaying promotional banners or signs. All must be approved by the superintendent, and promotion of alcohol, drugs or tobacco isn't allowed.
The Spotsylvania school division's Athletics Task Force currently is working on a proposal to let schools accept advertisements in gyms and at ball fields, schools spokeswoman Rene Daniels said, with the revenue to go toward sports.
Daniels said she's gathering information about the individual schools in preparation for the task force's meeting this month. Once details are ironed out, the task force will take the idea to the School Board, probably in a few months, she said.
But Daniels said the revenue that would be generated by the ads is "not even close" to what it would take to eliminate sports-participation fees, which the division implemented in the 2010-11 school year.
In Fredericksburg, the schools don't charge sports fees. The city school division's ad policy comes straight from the Virginia School Boards Association, which says that schools "may not endorse or imply endorsement of any product."
Like Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg allows ads in publications, although it bans them from companies whose primary revenue comes from the sale of alcohol or intoxicants.
Stafford County students don't pay a fee to participate in athletics, and the school system does allow advertising on its athletic fields. School policy forbids ads which promote "intoxicants or tobacco products."
The county also allows businesses to sponsor scoreboards for high school and middle school sports.
--Staff writer Pam Gould contributed to this story.
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028