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Gordon/Vitale Bill Permitting School Bus Advertisements Signed Into Law

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Bob Gordon and Joseph Vitale to permit school districts to sell advertising on school buses as a way to help offset costs was signed into law today by Governor Chris Christie.

“Selling school-appropriate advertising will give cash-strapped districts the ability to raise additional revenue to offset program and transportation costs,” said Senator Gordon (D-Bergen). “Given the unprecedented budget cuts we have seen to education, this presents an exciting opportunity for districts to work proactively to supplement state and local funding.”

“It is imperative that we continue to find creative ways to ensure that all of our schools are equipped to offer the high-quality education our students deserve,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “This is a sure-fire way to get more money to our school districts to help them restore programs and services they were forced to eliminate as a result of the extraordinary budget cuts they faced last year.”

Specifically, the law (S-2309) permits boards of education to enter into a contract for the sale of advertisement on the exterior of buses owned or leased by a school district. It requires districts to use 50 percent of the proceeds to offset the cost of transporting students. The other 50 percent may be used to support school programs and services, with the approval of the board of education.

Advertisements for alcohol or tobacco products, or for political advocacy, are expressly prohibited under the law. The State Board of Education will be required to establish rules laying out the permissible size of advertisements, as well as develop criteria for determining the age-appropriateness of the advertising and the suitability of the message.

The Commissioner of Education must report to the Governor and Legislature each year on the number of boards of education that permit advertising and the fiscal benefits they have reaped from the program.

The bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 75-0 in September. It was approved by the Senate 28-2 in November. The law takes effect immediately.

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