The Committee on Education and Public Works is considering a bill introduced in early December that would allow the school districts to sell "child-friendly" advertisements on school buses. Ad revenue would be used toward purchasing newer buses.
If passed, the legislation would require that advertisement space be made available on the sides and back of school buses owned by the Department of Education or by private contractors. But selling ads would be an option for school districts that owned and operated their own fleets. Still, that would be a relatively small number of buses as South Carolina remains the only state in the nation to own, operate and maintain nearly all school buses in the state.
Bill 4369, introduced on Dec. 3 by Rep. Joshua Putnam, would also require the State Board of Education to develop guidelines for the placement of ads and the rates and terms of contracts. The board would also need to develop a standard contract that school districts must use for the sale of advertising.
School districts would be responsible for approving contracts as well as ensuring ad messages are not of a sexual, profane, violent or illegal nature. The ads could neither promote alcohol, tobacco products or weapons nor foods or beverages with limited to no nutritional value.
If passed and signed into law, Bill 4369 would go into effect at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.
Seven other states currently allow school districts to erect ads outside or inside school buses. The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services as well as several state associations oppose ads on school buses as they say the images and messaging distract motorists from the safey of the yellow school bus.