Fans of Lodi High School sports could soon be cheering on their teams from the Nike Bill and Carol Meehleis gym. Or maybe the Tokay Tigers will practice on the Google athletic field. Even libraries and multipurpose rooms could see a new, sponsored nametag.
The Lodi Unified School District board heard a report Tuesday night detailing a potential advertising contract with Education Funding Partners, a national marketing firm, and gave approval for negotiations to move forward.
The idea is to pick out which school locations might be attractive to advertisers and determine what space is available. Education Funding Partners then connects a Fortune 500 company with that information and comes up with a potential ad design. The company buying the ad space pays for printing and posting.
If the contract doesn’t generate at least $100,000 in revenue in its first year, it would be terminated.
The district would have final approval of the message, design and location of each ad, with each contract coming up through a board meeting.
“Once we have this contract, it doesn’t give them free rein to put everything everywhere,” said board president George Neely.
Art Hand, assistant superintendent of facilities and planning, said the contract would not interfere with local advertising opportunities, because the marketing firm is intent on reeling in the big fish specifically.
Revenue is 100 percent commission-based, with 80 percent going to the district. Eventually, the contract could bring in as much as $10 to $20 per student per year.
But school officials are concerned about the consequences of bringing district fundraising efforts to school sites.
Erik Sandstrom, principal at Tokay High School, said he’s totally torn about the idea of national ads posted at his school.
“It’s sad to say that public schools have to fall back on commercialization,” he said. “Are we selling out? But what other choice do we have?”
One question he had was how the money made from these ads would be divided. If an ad is posted at Millswood Middle School, for example, it is not yet clear whether the funds generated from that particular contract would benefit only Millswood or the entire district. Neely said that issue would be addressed at a later date.
In other action, eight classified positions have been eliminated from Lodi Unified by a resolution approved by the board Tuesday night. These include paraeducators, bilingual aides and community liaisons in North Stockton schools, half coming from Bear Creek High School alone.
Classified union president Paula Calderon said these employees help connect non-English-speaking families with the schools, as well as assist English-language learners in the classroom.
“These are employees who won’t be coming back after Christmas,” she said.
The rational presented in the meeting agenda was that enrollment numbers in that area did not require those positions. California Educational code states that classified employees are subject to layoffs as a result of lack of work or funding.
Calderon’s reaction was one of surprise. She wasn’t aware of the resolution before it was posted through the meeting agenda online Thursday.
“We’re currently in negotiations,” she said. “This was never mentioned.”
Calderon missed the public comment period on the 2011-95 resolution due to a phone call. She attempted to ask questions during the non-agenda item union representative comment period, but was blocked by Neely, who asked that she instead direct her questions to Mike McKilligan, assistant superintendent of personnel, at another time.
However, a handful of teachers who missed the public comment meeting on a public hearing regarding the teacher contract re-opening stepped forward to speak during teacher union president Jeff Johnston’s allotted comment time.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at email@example.com.