New school advertising policy is questioned
Wm. Duke Harrington
A South Portland city councilor and several residents are questioning a school department plan to raise upward of $30,000 from the sale of display ads, saying it violates a city ordinance banning billboards.
In a 4-3 vote at a Feb. 8 meeting, the South Portland Board of Education approved a plan to augment the school’s athletic budget by selling signs, to be placed around the perimeter of George E. Martin Memorial Field, as well as on the scoreboard and atop the bleachers. Corporate logos also may ring the inner walls and scoreboard of Beal Gymnasium.
Some school board members, including Rick Carter, objected to the idea, saying the sale of advertising on school grounds was akin to “selling our souls.” However, the majority backed Kunin, with chairman Richard Matthews declaring himself in “enthusiastic support” of the idea.
When the bottom-line school budget went before the city council May 16, Mussey Street resident Greg Lewis raised an objection.
“I think this is a very ill-conceived plan when the school has a few million in reserves collected from tax money just last year,” he said. “Putting up advertising and junk all over our public schools, which belong to all of us – I don’t see any reason why that should happen.”