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South End school leaders rethink advertising policy

Advertising may line South Whidbey’s fields and gyms in the coming year.

Principals, board members and the district superintendent discussed adopting a more robust policy to govern advertising on South Whidbey School District property.

“It’s not against the law to allow people to advertise, unless it’s on a school bus,” said District Superintendent Jo Moccia.

A quick discussion of extracurricular activity advertising ended the board workshop Wednesday night, but not without a handful of concerns and questions from board members and others in attendance.

One of the issues raised was which products would be allowed to advertise with South Whidbey’s sports teams and clubs. Programs spawned from a class, such as band, are not allowed to advertise, while baseball and softball at the high school have advertising on the outfield fence. Even so, a misunderstanding persisted that some sports could advertise and others could not. They all can, but the district’s current policy is too vague, so teams have avoided advertisements.

“We don’t have consistency,” said Board Member Damian Greene.

The South Whidbey School District is looking for ways to bolster its athletics and extracurricular budget. Recently, the high school increased its athletic participation fees to $75 (football costs $90), from what it was the past few years at $50 per sport, with a third season waived.

As long as funds raised from an extracurricular activity, likes sports or dances, go into an Associated Student Body account, advertising is permitted. The gray area came from the ambivalence of the policy, which does not specify which products or goods may be solicited. Coca-Cola, Marlboro and Hooters could all technically be approved for advertising because there is no policy forbidding it.

“It just wouldn’t be done,” said John Patton, principal at South Whidbey High School.

The school district leaders will look for other districts in Washington that adopted and utilized advertising policies, from which it can adopt its own.

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