Three years ago, Mesa Public Schools started using a creative mechanism to bring more money into the district: advertising on their school buses, and the decision has brought in upwards of $100,000 per year.
Ron Latko, director of transportation and fleet management for the district, originally came up with the idea during the difficult economic downturn, and felt school bus advertising was a “no-brainer.”
“We wanted to show that we are not just sitting around in a bad economy,” Latko said. “We’re doing something to generate our own income.”
The original company the district used for advertising recently went out of business, which forced the district to look for a new company. In November, Mesa Public Schools contracted Alpha Media to handle the district’s school bus advertising.
Alpha Media will work with 250 school buses. Michael Beauchamp, president and CEO of Alpha Media, said his company will increase profitability because they will be able to tap into a larger network of companies. Alpha Media works with school districts around the United States.
“We’re talking with advertisers both locally and nationally to try to get businesses of all sizes on the buses,” Beauchamp said.
Each advertisement must be approved by the district to ensure it is appropriate by its standards. There is also a state law that prohibits certain advertisements on school buses, such as tobacco and alcohol.
Advertisements come in two sizes ranging in price from $120-$180 per month. Beauchamp said this mode of advertising allows businesses to reach many households on a daily basis while contributing to education.
“It’s great for them because they can give back and get something they actually need,” Beauchamp said of potential advertisers. “But more than that, this advertising medium just provides them a way to get their message to more folks for less money than anything else.”
Beauchamp said Alpha Media — which also oversees school advertising in the Paradise Valley district — is looking forward to working in Mesa.
“Mesa in particular seems to be a very thriving economy,” he said. “The businesses that we’ve talked to are very interested and very supportive of this district.”
But the real winner in this deal could be the district, since Mesa Public Schools is expected to see 62 percent of the advertising agreement’s gross revenue. Latko said as the economy continues to improve, he expects profits to increase.
“It’s a budget filler,” Beauchamp said. “It’s a way to counteract budget shortfalls. When teachers are being laid off when programs are being cut across the country, this is a way to generate a new stream of revenue.”
• Jessica, a junior studying journalism at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern with the Tribune this semester. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6548.