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By Annie Martin

Published:  Monday, December 3, 2012 at 3:44 p.m.
Last Modified:  Monday, December 3, 2012 at 3:44 p.m.


BUNNELL — The first paid ads on the Flagler County school district’s website appeared last week.

School officials say they hope inviting businesses to put their name in front of employees, parents and students will help the schools generate some extra money during lean economic times.

The first two advertisers are Mitchell Noel Insurance Agency in Ormond Beach and Kumon, a tutoring service with 26,000 locations in 47 countries and regions.

The Flagler School Board voted last year to allow ads on the website, as well as school newsletters, supplies, clothing, signs, uniforms and district vehicles other than school buses. The Volusia School Board OK’d selling similar ads in 2011 and many schools have sold advertising in some venues, like athletic facilities, for years.

“One of the goals of the district website was really not to take away from those school-based funding (efforts),” said Mike Judd, Flagler’s senior director of school operations.

“Hopefully, we’re approaching some new advertising dollars instead of making people go to the website and advertise there versus supporting one of the football teams.”

Flagler’s general fund, which pays for operating costs like salaries and utilities, has taken a hit in recent years. The county expects to receive $91.5 million from state, local and federal sources this year, down from $94.5 million three years ago.

Flagler school leaders are hoping to recoup some of that lost revenue from businesses, but not everyone can advertise on school district property. Ads for alcohol, tobacco, drugs or anything that’s harmful or illegal for children are prohibited. Political and religious ads are out too.

In October, the board agreed to ink a three-year contract with Nancy Holman of Ormond Beach-based School Partnerships to sell ads on a commission basis. Holman will collect 35 percent of the gross advertising revenue during the first year and 25 percent in the following years.

The cost of advertising, which runs from $100 monthly to $1,000 or more, depends on how frequently the rotating ads appear.

Holman also has sold ads for Volusia County schools since spring 2011. Since then, Volusia has generated about $100,000, including Holman’s commission, from its web advertising.

“It was slow starting out but now it’s dramatically increasing,” Holman said.

However, It’s unlikely Flagler will match Volusia’s revenue stream. Along with having a fraction of the page visits on main pages, Flagler’s online gradebook, Skyward, which allows parents to check their children’s grade progress, does not accommodate advertising. A good chunk of Volusia’s dollars come from ads on its gradebook, Pinnacle, Holman said.

Still, advertising on school property is especially appealing for some types of businesses, Holman said.

“I do think that people feel like they want to help the schools because education is so important,” Holman said. “They’re not only advertising, but they’re helping the schools.”