As school districts struggle with additional ways to bring in money, the Gilbert Unified School District governing board has decided to allow a Scottsdale company the rights to sell advertisements that will appear through a link on the district's Web site.
The contract with Media-AIM (Advertising in Motion) Inc., which mainly works with school bus advertising, was approved Tuesday night. Sixty percent of the ads' sales revenue will be given to the district, while 40 percent will go to the ad company, at least for the first year, according to the contract.
"This will provide some extra revenue we are in sore need of," said Superintendent Dave Allison.
The contract is for one year with an option to renew for four more years.
The ad revenue split will be negotiated again after the first year. Ad rates still need to be determined, said district spokeswoman Dianne Bowers.
"Since this is the inaugural year, we don't know what the demand will be," Bowers said.
The advertising will not appear on the district's main site at www.gilbert.k12.az.us, but rather as an icon that when clicked will open another site to view the advertising, Bowers said.
According to new law, school districts can now sell advertising on their Web sites, as long as the ads are "age appropriate and not contain promotion of any substance that is illegal for minors, such as alcohol, tobacco and drugs, or gambling." The advertisements should also comply with the state's sex education policy of abstinence. Although the state approved the new law this summer, the Gilbert district had been looking for a company to sell advertising on the Web site because "we just assumed we could," Allison said. Allowing advertising on the Web site has been a district policy for two years, said board President Thad Stump.
Gilbert will have the final say on any ads, and district staff will be responsible for maintaining and uploading the ads to the Web site, Bowers said.
Jim O'Connell, president of Media-AIM, said Gilbert is the first local school district they're working with on Web site advertising. The company also is working with a Colorado school district for Web site advertising.
The types of advertising that could soon be seen through Gilbert's Web site, are "appropriate community-based businesses," O'Connell said.
"It could be retailers, automobile dealers, insurance companies, or travel agencies looking at providing services to families and employees of the district," he said.
The Scottsdale company has contracts with the Cave Creek, Scottsdale and Queen Creek school districts for school bus advertising, O'Connell said.
Several questions and concerns came up before the board approved the contract with a 4-1 vote.
Board member Helen Hollands said she wants the board to review the company's advertising performance after the year contract before the board decides to renew the contract, instead of the district automatically approving a renewal. Hollands also requested the board should approve any ad rates.
Hollands suggested giving Media-AIM "performance incentives" to selling ads.
Board member E.J. Anderson, the lone dissenter on the vote, said she was concerned parents might not approve of the advertising because the "community can be so subjective."
"That's where most parents go for information, and I want to keep it that way," Anderson said. "I know we are in need of funds, but I don't want to spend a lot of time on this and have it take away from anything educational. My concern is the community standards. I think it (the Web site) needs to be more pure."