It's free money, basically. There is no catch, it just works that well. —Michael Beauchamp, Alpha Media
WEST JORDAN — The Jordan School District rolled out Utah's first four school buses with advertisements Tuesday, with more expected to follow.
The ads, which mostly blend into the siding of the buses, carry an anti-underage drinking message and direct parents to an informational website operated by the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Jordan is the first district in the state to take advantage of a 2011 law that allows for up to 35 percent of a bus' total area to be covered by advertisements. But Michael Beauchamp, whose company Alpha Media partners with Jordan to manage the ads, expects other districts to follow suit as the effort proves successful.
"It's free money, basically," Beauchamp said. "There is no catch, it just works that well."
Beauchamp said the advertisements cost between $100 and $250 per month, depending on the size, number and length of the contract. The district receives 63 percent of those funds and there are already companies on board with 100-bus orders for the next school year.
Herb Jensen, director of transportation for Jordan School District, said the district has a total of 210 buses, all ready to be wrapped. Policy dictates that the advertisements are subject to final approval by the school board and cannot cover any of the bus' windows or safety markers, such as lights, reflectors and stop signs. In addition, the ads cannot be placed on the front or back of the bus and cannot promote any substance or activity that is illegal for minors, any political party, candidate or issue, any sexual material, any religion or any competing educational organization.
District spokesman Steven Dunham said there were concerns vocalized when the advertisements were announced. Without a visual reference, some parents feared that ads would be placed inside the bus directed at children or would cover large swaths of the bus' exterior. He emphasized that there are no advertisements on the interior of the buses and the district will be careful that content does not run afoul of policy.
Dunham has not heard of any plans from other school districts to begin using bus advertisements, but said it would not surprise him if education officials keep an eye on Jordan. The Jordan District does not have an expectation or goal of how much money to raise with the ads, he said, but since there are no costs associated with the program, it's an opportunity to raise funds without affecting taxpayers.
"Any revenue is helpful to the district," he said.
In February the school board unanimously approved the ads, and at the time, the district projected a revenue of $1.3 million over four years from the advertisements.