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District To Sell Ad Space on School Buses

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The financially strapped New York City school board is turning to some unusual ideas to raise desperately needed funds. Among the latest: selling advertising space on school buses.

District officials are working out details of a plan that includes an agreement with the companies that provide bus service to the city's schools to place ads on their buses. Currently, 78 private companies transport about 150,000 New York City students daily.

"The school system will keep all the revenue from ads placed on the buses," said John Beckman, a spokesman for the district.

Though the plan is in its early stages, Chancellor Ramon C. Cortines has already declared there will be no "sin ads"--that is, no advertising for products such as cigarettes, alcohol, or condoms.

District officials have not decided where the ads will be placed on buses.

District officials are considering other unorthodox fund-raising measures, such as leasing space on the roofs of school buildings for advertising billboards or satellite antennas for cellular-telephone companies.

The plan stems mainly from a need to offset expected budget shortfalls, Mr. Beckman said.

"We are in an extremely difficult budget [deficit] situation that could total $1 billion," he added. "We decided to draw on the success the New York City public-transit system has had with its advertising, because new sources of revenue were wanted."

The New York City plan mirrors a decision by a school district in Colorado Springs last year to sell advertising space on its fleet of buses.

--Cheryl Gamble

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