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Lake Geneva Chiropractic

$50,000 scoreboard to make money for district



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February 24, 2015 | 12:16 PM
What started as a question has turned out to be a feel-good story.

The question was how much did the new scoreboard at Badger High School cost?

The answer: $50,000.

That seemed like a lot of money when I was first told about it. And unseemly amount considering how schools are portrayed as poverty stricken these days.

But as it turns out it might be a win-win-win.

A win for proponents of Act 10 — and creative ways to fund education.

A win for Badger high school because it plans to sell advertisement on the board which could amount to as much as $75,000 a year.

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A win for local groups who buy those ads.

Who loses?

Maybe those people who abhor promotion in schools, but that’s swimming against the tide these days.

“The idea of a video board was brought up by our Life of An Athlete students as a way to promote the student athletes of Badger,” said Badger Athletic Director Jim Kluge. “After a year getting to understand the capabilities of the video board, next year we will be using the board to help generate funds for the athletic programs, student organizations and scholarship money.

The cost of the scoreboard, which was approved by the Badger School Board in its 2015 budget, was offset by donations: $15,000 from the Booster Club, $5,000 from the Athletic Club, $5,000 from Life of An Athlete and $5,000 from the Student Council.

The remainder was taken from budgeted funds in the athletic department.

“The administration saw this as a great opportunity to promote our school, its student/athletes and provide a practical learning experience for our students (who produce many of the graphics for the scoreboard) and, at the same time, an opportunity to produce revenue for student scholarships and various school activities,” said Superintendent Jim Gottinger in a text message.

Was this a good use of funds?

“If spending some district dollars on a student-driven initiative that will enhance the school, its student/athletes and provide hands on learning experiences while producing revenue for the school is a problem,” Gottinger said, “It is a problem I choose to take on.”

Barry Forbes, associated executive director and staff council of Wisconsin Association of School Boards, confirms the legality of selling ads in schools.

In fact, Forbes said, more and more schools are going the advertising route to help fill holes in their budgets caused by the reduction of aid to schools.

The first high-tech video scoreboards in the state were at Hamilton High School in Sussex.

It built two scoreboards, one inside and one outside, in 2010 and it garnered $150,000 in revenue during its first year — which covered the cost.

Mike Gosz, Hamilton’s athletic director, said the school has made about $12,000 to $15,000 a year since then. Most of the first-year revenue came from five or 10-year contracts. When the idea for selling ads on the Hamilton scoreboard came up in the first place there was a challenge in that the school board had a policy against running ads. It took awhile to work out the details about what sort of advertising would be accepted, Gosz said, but the board eventually got behind it.

Beloit Memorial High School bought a $92,593 indoor scoreboard and $192,949 outdoor scoreboard last year and expects to pay for them in two to three years.

Vice President John Acomb in an interview with the Beloit Daily News said, “It’s a marvelous opportunity for an ongoing revenue stream for the district’s athletic department. And I think that it helps us to establish the fact that Beloit and the district is operating in the 21st century.”

Some schools have gone further than scoreboards and put advertisements on report cards. Can you see it? “Get better grades, drink Coke.” That’s where I’d draw the line.

Like it or not school advertising is in these days.

It’s the type of thing hailed by people who want schools to take on more of the financial burden of education. It also strikes me as a step toward privatization.

I would prefer it if kids weren’t assaulted by reminders of things to buy while going back and forth to class or watching basketball games. Maybe consumerism is so much a part of their life these days that they’re jaded by it.

Fact is with additional costs each year — like computers — like schools can’t do it any other way.

So I guess old hippies with old ideas should make way for new ideas. It’s a sign of the times.

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