North Allegheny moves toward taking ads for website, buildings
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Residents logging onto the North Allegheny School District website or walking into a school building soon may see something they have never seen before -- an advertisement.
As part of its continuing efforts to bring more nontax money into the district, the school board Aug. 22 approved a policy for commercial advertising.
The policy was fast-tracked, with the first reading Aug. 15 and the vote one week later. Usually, the board waits one month between policy readings.
The policy sets guidelines for accepting ads in publications, on the website and in buildings. The administration will develop rules to go along with the guidelines.
Although the policy passed 7-0, board member Joseph Greenberg expressed some reservations.
"I'm struggling with how we monitor the slippery slope that we are opening up," he said. "As we start opening the door to advertisements, what discretion do we have to turn away people that want to advertise because we don't like them?"
As an example, he cited how accepting an ad for milk could lead to ads for soda, then energy drinks.
"The advertising standard is set in the policy, and we have to follow that," solicitor Alfred Maiello said. "Whatever we have in there is a prohibition. We can't pick and choose in a category that we are prohibiting."
An ad is prohibited if it inhibits the daily functioning of the district or a school; violates the rights of any individual; attacks ethnic, racial or religious groups; discriminates, demeans, harasses or ridicules any person or group; is libelous; promotes hostility, disorder or violence; favors or opposes any political candidate, organization, cause or issue at any level of government; promotes, favors or opposes any religious event or organization; is obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit; promotes the sale or use of drugs, alcohol, tobacco or firearms; or uses the district logo without permission.
Advertising revenues will go into the general fund budget. Ads in athletic publications will go to the athletic budget.
Mr. Greenberg, Linda Bishop, Libby Blackburn, Dan Hubert, Thomas Schwartzmier and board President Maureen Grosheider voted for the policy. Beth Ludwig and Ralph Pagone were absent.
"I think that this is something that we are going to have to keep a very close eye on," Mr. Greenberg said. "We need to keep a very close watch on how this is being implemented. Many of us are not in and out of every building."
In other business, some parents of Hosack Elementary students complained about class sizes, specifically 30-32 children in a third-, fourth- or fifth-grade class. The district's old guidelines had a maximum of 27 students in those grades.
"There would be decreased individual attention for students during lessons," said Mark Majerac of McCandless, who teaches in another district. "It would be very, very hard for an educator to give appropriate feedback during class time when it has the highest impact."
Mr. Majerac also cited the increased workload for teachers.
"Come on, do we want to invest in the future or not?" he said. "I moved into this district because of the excellence of the school district. And now you tell me that my children will be in a classroom of 30."
Lyle Sprinkle of McCandless said 30 would be "too many third-graders for one sane teacher to stay sane."
Lisa Bischoff, who also teaches in another district, said, "Kids do not have the attention span that kids had 20 years ago."
"Educators today entertain," she said. "We have to keep up with texting and computers that run a million miles an hour. We have seen a significant drop in the quality of education when you go above 25 [students]."
Mrs. Bishop said she has always been a strong proponent of lower class sizes, but that is "financially unattainable for us right now. Our hands are tied."
She urged the parents and the community to read her legislative reports in the minutes of board meetings that are posted on the district's website. That way, parents can see what public school districts are up against with decreasing state funding and increasing unfunded mandates, she added.
"None of us here on this board want to make some of the decisions that we have had to make," Mrs. Grosheider said.
First Published August 30, 2012 5:18 am