New Jersey might be the next state to allow school buses to become rolling billboards if Gov. Chris Christie approves a bill that has made it through the state legislature.
The bill would allow school boards to authorize the sale of approved ads that would be displayed on the exterior of school buses. Fifty percent of the ad revenue must be used to offset the fuel costs for school bus service, and the remaining 50 percent would be used to fund district programs and services.
“Who is going to oversee what ads are placed on school buses?” asked Debra Shedlock, transportation director for Sayreville Public Schools located about 30 miles southwest of Newark. “I think they would be OK as long as they are educational.”
Advertisements for the sale of cigarettes or alcohol would be prohibited as would political ads. Acting Commissioner of Education Rochelle Hendricks, the chief executive school officer in the state, would also have the power to deem ads inappropriate and would be required to provide an annual report to Gov. Christie and the state legislature with data on the number of school districts that are taking advantage of the ads and what fiscal benefits they have experienced.
The bill was previously unanimously approved by the Assembly on Sept. 30 by a 75-0 vote. Gov. Christie had 30 days to sign the bill into law.
Other states that allow school bus advertising are Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Texas. Florida allows ads to be placed inside the bus only, “assuming the local school district approves the idea and that they don’t create any injury-prone projections or other safety compliance issues,” according to Florida State Director Charlie Hood. Several others including Kentucky, Ohio, Utah, and Washington have debated similar laws in the past year.