Winston-Salem, NC -- New wall decor could come to Winston Salem Forsyth County Schools system in the form of advertisements.
The district is considering a proposal to put national ads up in its gyms, cafeterias and auditoriums as a way to make some money.
The district would take 80 percent of the ad revenue.
As budgets tighten for schools across the country, many are looking at ways to generate revenue outside of tax dollars.
Winston-Salem Forsyth Schools have debated the idea of "ads for revenue" for a couple of years and even allow local ads currently.
But until now it hasn't gotten past committee discussions.
That may change in April when the school's Building and Grounds Committee meet. Theo Helm with WSFCS said they are considering a contract with Education Funding Partners (EFP). EFP contracts with several districts at once to put advertising in schools, according to Helm. As part of the contract, the schools decide what buildings, walls, athletic field or facility the ads would be placed.
Helm said there would be no upfront cost to the school system.
The other part of the contract could mean the company gets a verbal ad mentioned during a school event.
On its website EFP said their goal is to bring $100 million of sustainable, annual unrestricted cash to major public school districts by 2015.
The proposal is still in its early stages but some parents already have opinions about it.
Feather Medley is a parent in the school system and says with the economy and school system's tight budget she thinks the ads may be a good idea.
"It's an entrepreneurial way to make money," she said Tuesday afternoon while picking up her kid from a local school. "What's wrong with thinking outside the box in order to meet your goals or get the things that you need in life?"
Amybith Harlee is also a local parent but with a much different perspective on the matter.
She says "We don't need for our children to think that the schools and the teachers and principals value one product or company over another."
She continues that money as a motivator is problematic in this case.
"Unfortunately in our culture we often just say if it makes us money, then it'd be good. But no, money is not good. Money can be bad and can be evil. So just because if gets more funding doesn't mean it's going to be good for the kids," Harlee said.
A psychologist, Richard Walker, who is an associate professor at Winston Salem State University, also agrees ads in schools are a bad idea. He says it sends the message that information is for sale.
"Whenever we associate any kind of advertising with information then we're presenting Shakespeare brought to you by Xerox. It inherently devalues the content of the information," he explained. "We should make a blanket rule to keep advertising out of schools. Students are already exposed to these advertisements any way. 3,500 impressions [of advertisements in other forms] a day should be enough."
Professor Walker adds that if these ad companies really want to help the students - and not themselves - it would be better to donate money to the schools.
The district tells News 2 that they already advertise local companies but this contract will let them use bigger, national names.
A school district committee will meet on April 10th. They will decide whether to bring the decision to the school board for a decision.
Even if they do, Helm says it will still be about a month before they make a decision one way or the other.
An organization called Public Citizen has also weighed in against schools allowing ads on school property for financial gain. The released a report on why they believe ads in schools is the wrong way to raise revenue.
Your take: Tell us how you feel about schools allowing advertising on walls and buildings?
From EFP's website: Education Funding Partners provides unrestricted funds to public school districts across the country via corporate sponsorships. Our new model will revolutionize major corporate funding of public education. Our vision is to enable sustainable corporate funding of the American public education system which is facing extraordinary economic hardship. Our mission is to bring education-friendly, nationally respected corporate branding and naming sponsorships into public schools. Our management team has over 100 years of education-related and Fortune 100 experience. We are committed to use the power of business to solve social problems and to consider the needs of all EFP stakeholders, including students, school districts, parents, teachers, administration, communities, and sponsoring companies