School bus ads talk alive again in Frankfort

Rick McHargue
Rick McHargue
State Rep. Brad Montrell
State Rep. Brad Montrell

CRESTWOOD, KY (WAVE) - They are controversial, but Tuesday in Frankfort a legislative committee moved closer to allowing ads on the sides of school buses. Some lawmakers now argue with cuts headed for education, it could help raise needed revenue.

The school bus billboards are allowed in Colorado and there's a chance we could them here in Kentucky. Last year, the legislation failed, but this time around the House Education Committee moved to try and give the idea a go in 2012.

In Oldham County, Assistant Superintendent Rick McHargue showed us an old photo of a school bus from Crestwood Elementary in the early 1930's. How times have changed. From a bus number and school name to moving billboards now being considered by lawmakers in several states.

McHargue has major concerns about ads on buses and small print that could distract other drivers on the road and he believes big ads could drastically change the appearance of the bus.

"It's called school bus yellow for a reason," said McHargue.

Instead of ads for fast food and cleaning services, McHargue said school buses already make a statement: Children are onboard and other drivers need to be safe around the bus.

"I would hate to do anything that would diminish that and I would hate to do anything that would distract drivers from noticing this is a school bus," said McHargue.

"It's just a question of can we get used to seeing advertising on school buses," said State Rep. Brad Montrell, one of the bill's backers.

Montrell, a Shelbyville Republican, believes it's a simple way to help desperately strapped school districts instead of raising taxes.

"All of our schools have a fleet of buses and they could literally be a rolling billboard that could generate revenue for us," said Montrell.

Backers say it could mean thousands of dollars for small districts and possible millions for big districts like Jefferson County. But McHargue said it would still take a lot of convincing for him.

"These are tight budget times and school districts are looking for any kind of revenue stream they can find," said McHargue, "but a lot of serious thinking needs to go into it before we jump, putting advertising on the side of a school bus."

Terry Mills, a Lebanon Democrat, spoke to the committee Tuesday saying the ads are for sides of buses only and he maintains it is optional for school districts, not mandatory. Ads for tobacco and alcohol would banned.

JCPS and officials and those in the Spencer County school district told us Tuesday they'll wait to see if the bill becomes law before considering it. It now moves to the House.

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