Winter weather delays schools’ plan to bring in money with ads on buses

Published 9:24 am Friday, February 27, 2015

A series of snow storms impacting school operations in Carter County has also delayed a new venture that will generate additional revenue for the county school system.

Among business items delayed is the approval of a contract with District Solutions to begin placing advertisements on the sides of Carter County school buses.

The contract with the Atlanta-based company was set for board approval on Feb. 19, but that meeting was postponed until Feb. 26. Then, when another weather system moved through the area, once again blanketing the county in snow, the Feb. 26 meeting also was canceled.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The board has now decided to conduct their February business during the regular monthly meeting in March.

Plans are already in place to begin working with the advertising company as soon as the contract is signed, County Schools Transportation Director Wayne Sams said.

“We’ll now have to wait for March 19,” he said. “We won’t do anything until they do a final approval on it.”

If the contract had been signed during February, the target date to have the ads on the buses was April 1, Sams said. “That will be pushed back now,” he said, adding the school system would have to work with District Solutions to come up with a new target date.

“Hopefully this setback won’t hurt us,” Sams said, adding that despite the delay, he remains hopeful the ads can be in place before the end of the school year.

Some ads have already been lined up for Carter County and are just awaiting final contract approval by the board, Sams said.

“As soon as we sign the contract, we have a major company already wanting to buy five signs,” Sams said. The name of the company cannot be released until after the contract has been signed, he added.

The contract for the bus advertisements will be awarded to District Solutions, a company that specializes in placing ads on school buses. In December, a representative from business spoke to Board members during a workshop session about what the company offers school districts through its services. Then, during the Board’s regular December meeting, members voted unanimously to approve the placing of ads on the buses and put the project up for bid on the advice of their attorney.

Once the bids went out, only one company responded, Sams said — District Solutions.

As part of the agreement, District Solutions manages all aspects of the program, such as securing advertisers and providing the signs for the buses. The company then pays the school system a fee for each sign placed on a Carter County school bus. The program has no cost for the school system.

The rate paid to the county varies based on the number of signs a single advertiser purchases, Sams said. If a company purchases one or two signs, the county will receive $100 per month for each sign, he said. If a company purchases three to six signs, the county will receive $60 per month for each sign and will receive $50 per month for each sign if a company purchases seven to 10 signs.

There are 58 buses in the fleet, Sams said. Each bus can be equipped with up to two advertisements. Sams said the county will reserve two or three of the buses to carry advertisements for school or community programs that will benefit the school children.

That leaves 55 or 56 buses for advertising, which creates 110 or 112 open spaces for revenue generating ads.

“I think it’s going to be a good thing for Carter County,” Sams said. “I’m real excited about it.”

The additional revenue could be used for purchasing security cameras for those school buses not currently equipped with them, he said.

According to the pending agreement with the company, all of the advertisements must be child-friendly and the school system has final say on what will be advertised on the buses.