August 15th, 2012

Our View: Schools should consider trade-offs on ads

By Wasau Daily Herald

The Merrill School Board last week rejected a proposal that would have gotten the district a bit of new revenue by allowing private advertising on the district’s website. Brian Dasher, the district’s director of finance, said Merrill had “no interest, none whatsoever” in the proposal.

We don’t fault the district for dismissing this specific proposal and we’re not inclined to second-guess Merrill’s decision. But the issue raises interesting questions worth thinking through not just for Merrill but for other local school districts and local governments.

In a sense, the easiest position is the absolutist one. “No ads ever” has a satisfying purity to it, and it might well be the preferred course for some. However, it doesn’t comport with reality in most school districts — ads in athletic facilities, for example, are common and have been for a long time — and it certainly doesn’t resemble the world as most of us experience it.

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