Cash-strapped schools open lockers to advertising

Some say schools are no place for ads. But ads can help cash-strapped districts make money.

Image: David Brewster/Star Tribune

Norman Draper
Star Tribune

School lockers are becoming the latest venue for bombarding kids with advertising.

Just what that will look like is on display at the north suburban Centennial school administration building: four lockers wrapped in a bubblegum pink ad for the Mall of America’s “Underwater Adventures” aquarium.

On Nov. 1, the school board is slated to decide whether it will allow the ads on up to 10 percent of the available surfaces in all of the district’s seven schools. That includes lockers, walls and floors. The take for the district? $184,000 a year.

In a bleak economy, with dim prospects for any new state school funding, Centennial — with $3.6 million in cuts this year and more likely on the way next year — is just the latest school district looking at the ads as an alternative way to generate some cash. Paul Miller, president of Coon Rapids-based School Media’s, the company that would install the ads, said he expects to have nine Twin Cities school districts signed up by the end of the year.

Nearby St. Francis schools already made that decision. Ads will start going up on lockers there this week, said district Superintendent Edward Saxton. The district’s agreement with School Media’s is similar to Centennial’s proposed agreement. Its take: $190,000 to $200,000 a year.

“I hate to say it’s all about the money, but it probably is,” said Paul Stremick, Centennial school superintendent.

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