The Sarasota County School Board members agreed Tuesday that they would wait six months to tackle a new policy on corporate sponsorships and advertising at the district level.
During that time, they also agreed staff will collect information from other districts already pursuing such policies.
The discussion during the board’s monthly work session followed an initial examination of the matter in August, as a means of providing additional revenue to make up for lost state funding. Tuesday, Tanice Knopp, who leads the PALS Partners in Education office for the district, reported she had contacted 12 other districts in Florida as well as the Santa Rosa, Calif., school district — on the recommendation of staff in one Florida county — to determine what actions those districts were taking.
Of those districts with which she had communicated, Knopp said, only Orange County “has a full-blown marking and advertising system in place. They have an internal school district position dedicated to that — senior manager of sales and marketing.”
The Orange County district had generated about $500,000 in revenue by the start of the current school year, its third with the program, Knopp told the Pelican Press after obtaining the data following the school board meeting.
The Orange County Public Schools’ website points out that the district is the 10th-largest public school district in the United States. Katherine P. Marsh, the district’s senior manager for media relations, told the Pelican Press the district’s total enrollment is 182,279. The total enrollment figure for the Sarasota district as of mid-September was 41,395.
In an email exchange with the Pelican Press, Brian Siatkowski, senior manager for sales and marketing in the Orange County district, wrote, “We work hard to find (advertising) partners that we can integrate into our programs through creative inventory like our goal posts, PA announcements, online menus, field crew vests for football and floor decals in the gym lobbies.”
Charlotte County also has an advertising policy, Knopp said, and its school board is considering hiring an agency to manage the program. The Charlotte district gives its agency a percentage of the revenue it brings in.
Referring to the seven districts working on programs, Knopp said, “They are carefully moving forward in considering policy and procedure language.”
Knopp told the board members she did have a couple of examples of policy language that she could share with them, “not that we’ve studied them to say that they’re the best that’s out there.”
Board member Shirley Brown said she was interested in knowing how much revenue the Sarasota district might receive if it adopted a policy. “Is it even worth our time?” she asked.
Still, Brown added, “I think it’s something we might actively pursue, but I’m not sure about hiring somebody” to handle the advertising. On the other hand, she said, if the board pursued national contracts, it would need someone to follow up with companies to make sure “they continue to pay on a regular basis.”