August 9, 2011 • Vol. XXXV • No. 5
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State Details Proposal for Ads on Buses

The New Jersey State Board of Education discussed at last week’s meeting its initial proposal to allow school boards to place advertisements on the sides of school buses.

A recent state law allows boards of education to sell advertising space on the exterior of a school bus owned or leased by the board of education. The State Board of Education is required to enact regulations that detail how the law will be carried out.

Contracting Requirements According to the proposal, all advertisements would require the approval of the local board of education. The Public School Contracts Law would apply to any contract.

The proposed regulations give the school board the right, at its absolute discretion and at any time, to reject any advertising copy. The school board would be protected from lawsuits filed against advertisers regarding the school bus ads, according to the proposal.
Half of the funds generated from the ads must offset fuel costs, and half must be used to support school programs.

Content of Ads According to the proposal, the school board is not allowed to accept any ads that:

  • Are false, misleading, deceptive, disrespectful, fraudulent or libelous;
  • Contain any language that is obscene, vulgar, or reasonably determined not to be in good taste;
  • Promote unlawful or illegal goods, services or activities;
  • Promote gambling, tobacco, alcohol, or any products designed for use in connection with sexual activity;
  • Depict or glamorize violent or antisocial behavior or sexual conduct;
  • Resemble a traffic control device;
  • Declare or imply an endorsement by the board of education;
  • Are political, religious, issues-related, controversial in nature, or not age appropriate.

“The board of education shall not allow any of its school buses to become a public forum for dissemination, debate, or discussion of public issues,” according to the proposal.

Ad Location The proposal would require advertisements to be a fixed sign with smooth surface such as paint, decals or magnetic material; no brackets outside the bus may hold the advertisement in place. The sign would not be allowed to have fluorescent colors, reflectors, glossy, reflective material, glittering material, holograms, lighting or a changeable image.

The ads, which would be on the exterior sides of the bus between the front and rear wheel wells, would need to be at least three inches from any required lettering, lamp, wheel well, reflector or emergency exit.

School boards would be required to report to the state Department of Education the number of buses with ads, how long the ads have been on the buses, and the total revenue earned through the ads.

Before regulations are adopted, the State Board will go through a process that includes a second discussion during a future meeting. The details of the proposal can be found under Item F on the State Board’s August 3 agenda.


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