Boston.com: Ads for cigarettes and liquor won't make the cut.
But ads for local ice cream shops or hair salons could soon be appearing on permission slips, class calendars, and school notices sent home with Peabody elementary school students after a unanimous School Committee vote this week.
The novel plan to sell ad space on school communications marks the latest twist in how commercialization of schools -- from the sale of billboard space to ads on buses -- is generating cash in lean times.
The ads, possibly the first of their kind in Massachusetts, "will have to be age-appropriate, but we're thinking about ads from local pizza and ice cream shops, dance and karate schools, maybe from a florist or a college,'' said Superintendent C. Milton Burnett. The initial program aims to earn at most $24,000.
School officials plan to send letters in coming days to solicit ads from more than 500 members of the city's Chamber of Commerce. They expect advertisers to pay $300 to run ads on some 10,000 sheets of paper in one elementary school. If a business wants to run ads for all elementary schools in the district, the cost will be $2,000.
The decision to seek a nontraditional source of revenue came as Peabody, like nearly every other district in Massachusetts, has coped with cuts in state aid and escalating costs for everything from contractual obligations to instructional supplies. As a result, Peabody school officials have this year had to lay off six teachers, two guidance counselors, and other staff.
They have also hiked fees for buses and sports. It now costs families with more than one child in the district as much as $600 a year to bus their children to school and $300 for them to play sports.
While parents recognize the need for more revenue, some said they were irked the district has resorted to using their children to carry ads home.
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