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Norwin uncertain about ads, seeks details

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Norwin will continue to seek details about commercial advertising in the school district, though some officials said they're leery of the idea.

The school board on Monday asked business manager John Wilson to find out how much participating districts have earned in commercial advertising revenue.

“See if you can find out some ballpark kind of numbers, what these districts are seeing. Then we'll know if it's worth (it),” board President Robert Perkins said.

Officials will have to decide whether they want to “commercialize” the district, Perkins said.

During the past several months, six Westmoreland county school districts have discussed the idea to generate revenue through ads, Wilson said.

One advertising company presented a three-tiered ad program. That program would include “hard assets,” such as stadiums; “mobile,” such as school buses; and “digital,” such as the district website, Wilson said.

“They try to blend into the advertising things that match the school district,” Wilson said, such as the district mascot and school colors.

The program is designed to provide long-term and short-term revenue, including national and regional advertising, he said.

The company would charge a negotiable, up-front fee based on how many districts participate. Then, it would offer advertising samples, which the district could refuse, Wilson said.

The price for each school and each medium varies, Wilson said. The district would recoup its money before sharing profits with the company.

Superintendent William Kerr said he recognizes the need to look for sources of revenue but said he's not sure about this option.

“We have a beautiful campus and facilities,” Kerr said. “Just my opinion, I would not want to go to the extent that we commercialize it — junk it up.”

Wilson cited an example at a district stadium with a sign on an athletic field. The sign was in the district's color scheme and featured the district's name, along with a Reebok ad.

The company's website advertising would be border ads, not intrusive, across-the-page ads, he said.

Wilson said no decisions will be made until it's clear how many districts would participate and how Norwin might benefit.

“I'm not ready to NASCAR the place up,” board member Donald Rhodes said.

But, said board member Darlene Ciocca, “down the road, we may have to consider this with this pension looming.”

In other business:

Officials will consider providing wireless-capable devices, such as iPads, to board members, who could bring the devices to meetings.

Board member Dennis Rittenhouse discussed the idea, after seeing the program used at the board of another organization he represents.

“What they've set up is if we go to this icon here and we sign in, we will get our board agenda on the screen,” he said, demonstrating to board members with an iPad. “Which saves a lot of paper. It saves on clerical (work).”

It would be easiest, Kerr said, to post the documents on the school website for board members to access.

The idea would work best if all members use the same device, Perkins said. The administrative building is equipped with wireless Internet.

“I'm all for it if we can eliminate the paper,” Perkins said.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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