April 16th, 2008

Schools to Get Revenue from Bus Radio Network

By Gary Gibula
Chicago Tribune

St. Charles school buses will be equipped with a Wi-Fi radio network that brings in money for District 303.

Under an agreement approved this week by the school board, Bus Radio of Massachusetts will install receivers that include a global positioning satellite tracking device, public address system and panic button.

The radio systems will be placed in all 100 district buses free, officials said. The five-year agreement calls for BusRadio to pay District 303 advertising revenue of $1,500 to $5,000 annually, depending on ridership and other factors.

The program content consists of 15-minute segments that include about 10 minutes of age-appropriate music and one minute of commercials, according to a school district staff report.

Board members noted that bus drivers would have the ability to turn off BusRadio at any time.

“The reason I’m supporting this is because it should quiet the bus down,” said District 303 transportation director Blanca Souders.

Critics said the proposal would set a dangerous precedent in knowingly exposing children to certain advertising over which the district had no control.

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