Valley ISD's turning to ads on school buses amid budget shortfall

    In an effort to combat the recent budget shortfall to school districts across Texas, two Rio Grande Valley school districts have come up with a new way to make some money.

    Both Donna and Hidalgo Independent School Districts will start to place advertisements on their schools buses.

    Donna ISD Assistant Superintendent Fernando Castillo said the district was trying to find new and creative ways to make up for funding cut by the state.

    He said placing advertisements on the outside of school buses for passing motorists seemed to be the way to go.

    "Anything that can help the budget shortfall and not come out of the taxpayers pocket is obviously music to their ears," Castillo said.

    With approval from the school board, Castillo went to work and found an advertising company that would secure the ads and leave the ISD the job of providing the buses.

    "It's a win win situation for us," Castillo said.

    He said on any given day their fleet of 89 buses roll through 89 square miles and pick up 9,000 students.

    Castillo said since they get to keep 55% of the proceeds made--the money will be put back into their transportation fleet.

    "There is never going to be a time when there is some type of fund that is needed to help upgrade things in our transportation department," Castillo said.

    In the first year of operation, Donna ISD is expected to make about $40,000 and foresee that number to climb over the years.

    Donna is not the only district to embrace this idea.

    dalgo Independent School District also has plans to add advertisements to the side of their buses, although they are not going with an advertisement agency.

    "We decided to do this in house....which means we keep 100 percent of the profits," Jennifer Villarreal with Hidalgo ISD said.

    She said, unfortunately for them, getting ads on the side of their buses has been a little tricky---because some businesses view it as a risk.

    "Businesses are seeing it as a new concept and aren't sure if they should take the risk or not," Villarreal said.

    But with Hidalgo buses traveling hundreds of miles a day---Villarreal said the non-stationary advertisements will reach variety of people and in the end benefit everyone involved.

    There will be guidelines that these school districts have to follow.

    They are only allowed to put ads on the left side of the bus and those ads have to be three inches behind the rear wheel.

    The advertisements can also be placed on top of the bus.

    The advertisement must be contained within a block of 30 inches in height and 90 inches in length.

    No advertisements containing alcohol, tobacco, political messages, or sexual messages will be allowed on the bus.

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