NEW: Tassoni to Re-Introduce Bill to Allow Ads on School Buses

Thursday, December 01, 2011


Prompted by reports that Cranston officials are talking about selling advertising space on school buses, Sen. John J. Tassoni Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Smithfield) said he will re-introduce legislation to allow all school districts in the state to do just that.

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“Maybe the third time is the charm,” said Senator Tassoni, who introduced legislation in the 2009 and 2010 General Assembly sessions (2009-S 0021, 2010-S 2032) to allow the school committee of any city, town or regional school district to sell advertising space on school buses. Neither of those two earlier bills made it out of Senate committee, although an identical bill was passed by the House of Representatives two years ago.

“With school budgets being cut, with programs and important student activities being eliminated, fund-generating options of all kinds should be open for discussion,” said Senator Tassoni. “If a few ads on school buses can save a program or sport, or help give students the best education possible, I think that’s an option that should be made available.”

An added benefit, said Senator Tassoni, is the potential value of the ads to local, small businesses. “A store in Cranston could do an effective job of getting its message out by running ads on buses that travel Cranston streets all day. The same thing goes for other small businesses in other communities. Why not do something that can help businesses and our schools at the same time?”

Cranston officials said this week they are considering asking the General Assembly to adopt legislation approving the sale of ads on school buses. State law currently prohibits that practice. Cranston officials said selling ads on the buses has the potential of raising $300,000.

As with the 2009 and 2010 bills that he introduced, the bill he will submit in the 2012 session would restrict advertising to the outside of school buses, provided the ads don’t obstruct the vision of motorists. It will also authorize school committees to negotiate with private school bus carriers regarding the content of any ads and the sharing of revenue from them.

“I have heard the arguments against doing this,” said Senator Tassoni. “My position is that, if a few tasteful ads can bring in some money to help give school children a better education or save some programs that might be cut because of tight budgets, it is worth doing.”

Senator Tassoni said that his legislation would not require school districts to accept ads on school buses. “This would be a local decision, but I think we should give local school districts the right to make that decision on their own. Some may choose not to. Others, such as Cranston, may need the additional funds these ads could generate.”


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