The Booneville School District became the first school in Arkansas to realize proceeds from school bus advertising when it was presented a check for $2,700 Friday morning in a launch event held in a Bearcat Stadium parking lot.
“On behalf of the Crosswalk Marketing we present you, and on behalf of the four sponsors that stepped up as well, $2,700 to the Booneville School System transportation department,” said Crosswalk partner Don Young. “We hope you can make this travel a long way.”
The amount is derived from a $1200 per year fee for sponsors, of which $300 goes toward creating the decals for the campaign with the school receiving 75 percent, or $675 for each sponsorship, according to Young.
Booneville is number one, Crosswalk Marketing partner Tony Christie told the contingent of school officials and students in front of the five buses that are emblazoned with advertising.
Act 941 of 2015 permitted the sale of advertising on school bus with any proceeds generated from those sales reserved for transportation departments.
“Roughly two years ago this month legislation was passed making this possible,” said Christie. “School districts are pinched for dollars in every department and this is a way to help keep you in tires, and fuel and alignment.”
Initial advertisers on the five buses on advertising are Roberts Heating and Air, CV’s Family Food and Tyler Ford, all in Booneville, Harry Robinson GMC-Buick of Fort Smith and one shared by Crosswalk Marketing and the Booneville Rotary Club.
The ads, which cover only one-third of the space allowed by state law, mention only the company or organization’s name along with a common theme of “A Hope and a Future.”
Getting to Friday’s launch was a process that took almost a year. In the fall Young’s group held a meeting at the Western Arkansas Education Co-op in Branch to pitch the idea.
Parrish was one of the first to express an interest, Young said Friday.
“To me it’s simple, we have a traveling billboard and Crosswalk is willing to put the screening together and put the signs on the buses and then they just write us a check,” said Booneville Superintendent John Parrish. “I see this as a win-win.”
Parrish is the president of the Booneville Rotary Club who inspired the campaign message.
“We came up with theme A Hope and a Future to raise money for scholarships,” said Parrish, who hiked 120 miles from the State Capitol to the high school recently to raise funds. “We have a goal of raising scholarships so every senior can have their first year of college paid for.
“That’s kind of what A Hope and a Future started with.”
Parrish said the routes on which the buses were selected for advertising were intentional.
“I told (transportation director) Jim (Hix) to give me some routes that would be the most visible, the most eyes will see them,” said Parrish.
Prior to Friday’s official launch — some of the buses were actually sporting the ads in the middle of the week — Young’s company held a pair of meetings at the Chamber of Commerce office to try to attract advertisers then went “door to door” as well he said.
There are 10 more bus sponsorship available. Young said there are seven or eight other companies interested.
“They’re just kind of waiting to see if we’re for real,” he said.
The ads will remain on the bus for 12 months and any commitments who follow will have a full calendar and the school will receive their proceeds in the month in which the bus is outfitted with the decals, Young said.