by Tammy Sakry
During the last school year, St. Francis School District lockers were decorated with ads touting everything from school supplies to health reminders, like eating colorful fruits and vegetables.
In addition to adding color to the schools, the locker ads installed by the Coon Rapids-based School Media also brought in money.
From the eight locker ads, which focused on nutrition, education and healthy matters, posted in the school during the last school year, St. Francis Middle School received $10,330.
The money is going to purchase 20 new iPads and cases, said Principal Dale Johnson.
The iPads offers a lot of applications for kids to use and engage them in the learning process and the iPads have a lot longer battery life than laptop computers do, he said.
The iPads have been used for astronomy, biology, music and for language and art classes as well as for virtual field trips
The school already has 66 iPads and plans to buy another 20 using the $10,000 raised during the Yankee Candle fund-raiser this fall.
“We want more in the building and get them more frequently into the hands of the kids,” Johnson said.
The new iPads will also be helping teachers.
Three of the iPads will be issued to physical education teachers to do attendance and provide communication with the main office when necessary, something not easily accomplished in the gym, Johnson said.
Cedar Creek Community School Principal Darin Hahn is also advocating for more iPads for his school.
With the school’s six ads, CCCS will have $7,067 to spend.
The school currently has 45 iPads, Hahn said.
While the recommendations to purchase iPads come from each of the school’s site management committee (SMC), the decision is guided by the district’s Financial Planning Action Committee December 2010 recommendation to use 75 percent of the funds for technology purchases and 25 percent for district communications and chemical health support for students.
Approximately $10,000 was used for the development and management of the district website and about $4,000 for chemical health counseling, said Tom Larson, director of community education and services, custodial/maintenance.
East Bethel Community School has also decided to use the $5,219 it received in locker ad revenue for iPad-related technology.
“We will be setting aside $500 for the purchase of educational iPad apps recommended by our teaching staff and the remainder will be used to purchase additional iPads for instructional use with students,” said Principal Angela Scardigli.
For the five ads posted in St. Francis Elementary School (SFE), it brought in $5,860 for the 2011-2012 school year.
According the Principal Kathy Kohnen, the school’s technology committee is still deliberating what to recommend to the site management committee (SMC).
The 16 locker, floor and wall ads scattered around St. Francis High School during the last school year generated $13,498 for the school.
No word yet on how the school will be using the funds.
As the schools were preparing for the 2011-2012 school year, anticipation was high for the second year with School Media.
In August, the school board was told by representatives from School Media that the company planned on installing more ads in the schools.
But when the ads were installed, there were less of them.
The high school ads dropped from 16 to four and the middle school only received five ads instead of the eight the previous year.
While SFE remained the same with five ads, CCCS and EBCS both dropped from six ads to five ads.
As of this time, the school district has not received an explanation of why the number of ads decreased.
In the first year, School Media was working with one school district with five buildings, said Janet Miller, School Media chief operating officer.
Since then School Media has put up ads in 40 schools in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and California, she said.
Although the number of advertisers has grown to 102, the ads are spread out among all of the schools as a way to attract national and large corporate advertisers, Miller said.
“There are not as many ads to (go) around,” she said.
The company currently has commitments from 120 advertisers for the next school year, Miller said.
District 15 has a two-year contract with School Media, which expires Oct. 21, 2013.
According to the contract, the district receives $180 per 50 square feet per financial quarter.
When selling its program, School Media said the district had a potential to earn $200,000, said Larson.
But when the numbers were totaled, it was closer to $55,000 last year, he said.
“We are obviously disappointed in the financial return. We are hoping for a healthier revenue stream in the future,” Larson said.
As a growing business, School Media is committed to fulfilling its commitments and “we have made it clear to every school that they are our first priority,” Miller said.
Tammy Sakry is at firstname.lastname@example.org