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San Diego Public Schools To Consider Campus Ads

Some San Diego schools would allow ads in classrooms, libraries, and other campus areas under a district proposal to help ease the pain of budget cuts.

The San Diego Unified School District's proposed policy is modeled on others that have embraced corporate sponsors in the last two years, including districts that cover Miami and Orlando in Florida and Santa Rosa and Chula Vista in California. The school board will consider the policy Tuesday.

"It's part of an emerging trend as districts face more deficits," said Bernie Rhinerson, San Diego's chief district relations officer and author of the proposal.

The San Diego district said its annual budget has been cut $270 million over three years, while enrollment has grown 2 percent to about 132,000 for grades kindergarten through 12.

Public schools began to embrace corporate sponsors in the 1990s, initially by allowing ads on school buses and then in extracurricular areas like athletic fields, said Cathy Christie, chief of staff for Education Committee of the States, a Denver-based group that researches education trends.

San Diego's district would go a step further by allowing ads in hallways and classrooms.

Ads would also be allowed in libraries, exterior walls and fences, vending areas and athletic fields. The district estimates that ads on its website alone could generate more than $100,000 a year.

They would be prohibited at elementary schools and inside classrooms, Rhinerson said.

The Sweetwater Union High School District, which serves 43,000 students in grades 7 through 12 in Chula Vista and other San Diego suburbs, hopes to raise $1 million a year under a policy adopted in July that allows ads in hallways, cafeterias and other areas, said spokeswoman Lillian Leopold. Ads are not allowed inside classrooms.

Sweetwater's annual operating budget has been cut $32 million to $333 million since 2007, which prompted the move, Leopold said.

The Sweetwater board must approve each new sponsor. The first, Platt College, could have ads on campus by November if the board gives its blessing.