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Schools Selling Naming Rights? Let Me Help.

Seriously, slap some advertising on it. As gas prices skyrocket, so does the cost of operating school buses.

A school district in Massachusetts is considering selling the naming rights to its buildings, or parts of its buildings. Some parents are appalled, but frankly I think it’s brilliant. And Newton, MA isn’t the only town to consider “selling out.”

Here’s a sampling of other public schools that are trying to raise cash creatively by selling naming rights and advertising:

  • A school district in Pennsbury, PA is selling advertising space on school floors, walls, lockers, cafeteria tables, and benches to try to make up for a budget shortfall.
  • A school district in Galveston, TX is selling advertising space on its school buses.
  • Gloucester High School, in Gloucester, MA began looking to sell naming rights to its football stadium in 2011. Companies can expect to shell out $500,000 to get their logo on the stadium, which needs about $3 million in repairs.
  • The school board of Los Angeles, CA voted unanimously to approve selling naming rights to schools in 2010. Since then, similar policies were put into place in several other California towns, including La Canada, Beverly Hills, and Palos Verde. Wait … Beverly Hills? I feel like either the FOX network or the Spelling family should pony up for that one.
  • Metro Nashville Public School District has partnered with more than 170 businesses. Country Music Television has agreed to pay cash and in-kind contributions in order to gain naming rights to McGavock High School’s Academy of Digital Design and Communication.
  • Schools in Florida would have gained the right to sell naming rights to cafeterias under the “Student Nutrition Enhancement Act” filed in December 2011. (The bill died in committee, probably because it needed a snappier name. One with more pizzazz. And maybe some jazz hands.)
  • Corvallis School District in Oregon is considering selling the naming rights to its high school theaters.
  • Of course, higher education institutions having been selling naming rights for pretty much forever. UCLA has the Pauley Pavillion; every college football bowl seems to be named for a salty snack food.
  • Taking things up to the next notch is Harvard University’s brand new law building, which boasts the Falik Men’s Room, sponsored by lawyer, real estate developer, and Harvard Law alum William Falik. Other colleges have followed suit. A library bathroom at UPenn is being renovated thanks to a donor’s generous contribution. The only stipulation  is that the wall have a plaque stating “the relief you are now experiencing is made possible by a gift from Michael Zinman.”

As tacky as all this sounds, I am all for it. The school district my kids are in is currently planning to cut all art, music, gym, and library teachers from our ten elementary schools and all foreign language and technology teachers from our two middle schools. Although the district swears that the classroom teachers will be able to teach all those things in the classroom (apparently in their spare time after jamming standardized test-taking skills into my kids’ noggins), most of the parents in my district are freaking the hell out.

Given the state of things, I hope our district will consider selling naming rights. Given the choice, which would you choose: having no art class at all or having the Michael’s Craft Store Art Room? No physical education teacher, or have the teacher wear a Modell’s shirt all year?

In fact, once you get over the hideous tackiness, the possibilities seem endless! Wrap the school buses in advertising; instead of telling kids they take Bus 86, tell them they take the Outback Steakhouse Bus! This music class brought to you by iTunes! Welcome to the State Farm Insurance Math Department! Now hiring instructors for the Sunoco Environmental Sciences Fellowship! Proud parent of a Comcast Elementary School Honor Student!

Heck, Tina Fey graduated from my town’s high school. How about the NBC Performing Arts Center? We will totally change the street name so the address can be 30 Rock.

At this point, I’m willing to give up all concerns I may have had about exposing my kids to too much advertising. I’m far more concerned about not exposing my kids to enough art, music, literature, and physical activity.

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