Bridging the funding gap: now is not the time to fail

                When the subject of selling ads on the sides of Kyrene school buses first came up, we expressed our thoughts on the matter  to district superintendent Dr. David Schauer and community education administrator Kelly Alexander, who had presented the  Governing Board, at its request, with a proposal to hire a fulltime employee whose job it would be to generate revenue via advertising sales.

                Our concern centered primarily on the issue of a public entity competing with local private enterprise, such as small  newspapers like ours, for the already scarce advertising dollars needed to keep us and others like us financially viable.

                We were assured that the district’s plans for generating financial support would focus on corporate giving rather than small, hometown businesses.

                Our exchange of ideas with the district convinced us that our concerns were much less worrysome than those facing our schools in their efforts to offset the more than $3 million they will lose as a result of state funding shortfalls.

                From our standpoint, the importance of ensuring our kids’ education was the most compelling argument of all, and the matter seemed settled. Since then, however, we’ve detected what seems to be a mounting reaction from folks in our community who express their own, varying reasons for objecting to advertising sales as a way to help solve Kyrene’s economic problems.

                Republic columnist Dave Wells has now joined the chorus of nationwide voices staunchly opposed to advertising on school buses and other school-related venues.

                He was not alone. Neighbors, including a handful of retired teachers, wonder how the district can justify the cost of a fulltime employee to undertake the task without more than hopes that the $50,000 in aggregate staffing costs won’t eclipse the dollars such a person might generate.

                We don’t want to discourage district board members or administrators from using all means available to them, including the substantial foresight that has proven so effective in helping them to meet other fiscal challenges.

                If advertising sales is the answer, we know the district will carefully monitor any such program to ensure that it’s proving its worth. However, before experimenting with strategies that haven’t proven successful in other districts, our local board members may want to take a second look.

Like it or not, this isn’t a time to fail.

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