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Virginia lawmakers consider allowing school bus advertisements

Virginia lawmakers are considering a bill to allow ads on public school buses. It's an option Tennessee already allows by state law. (K. Roberts, WCYB.)

Virginia school systems would have a chance to bring in new dollars under a bill advancing in the state legislature. Delegate Israel O'Quinn is proposing a bill to give school systems a new revenue stream without an extra burden on taxpayers.

"Everyone saw what we were trying to do to get outside of the box and get new revenue streams that aren't taxpayer dollars that can go to assist the K-12 education system," O'Quinn said.

His bill would open up the opportunity for school systems to sell ads on school buses.

O'Quinn said, "We want to give them the flexibility to sell the ads for what they're worth in a given market and then put that money back towards things that that locality that decided they wanted to go down this path actually needs that money for."

It would be extra cash in dire need in southwest Virginia.

"Every penny counts when you're working on a tight budget," Bristol, Virginia School Superintendent Keith Perrigan said. "This could be a good way for us to start a fund for bus replacement and repair."

Tennessee already allows for the advertising. Carter County Director of Transportation Wayne Sams estimates their county draws $8,000-$1,000 in revenue from it each year.

Sams said, "Anytime you can bring money into the school system that's tax-free money is a good thing."

Carter County reinvests the money in school bus safety. Last summer, $15,000 was used to equip all 52 route buses with cockpit cameras.

"We've been able to add to our camera systems on our buses, which protects students and drivers alike," Sams said.

One possible priority next would be adding cameras to the bus stop signs.

In Virginia, the bill that would open up school bus adverting has passed the house and is now making its way through the Senate Education Committee.

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