Los Angeles Schools to Seek Sponsors
“This is really our way to be responsive to that reality; we need to look for other sources of revenue,” said Melissa Infusino, the director of partnerships for the district. “As uncomfortable as it may be for folks, it’s less comfortable to get rid of programs or go through more layoffs.”
As they discussed the proposal at Tuesday night’s meeting, several board members expressed distaste with the idea of opening up schools to business, but concluded that there was no other way.
“The implications of us doing this are really disconcerting and really bothers me to my core,” said Steve Zimmer, who said he reluctantly favored the plan because he saw no better alternatives for raising cash. “The reality is public funding is not funding public education.”
Continuing the budget cuts “would just be a massacre” for public education in the city, he said.
All money generated through the sponsorships will go to the district’s general fund, although they will be earmarked to finance athletic, arts or academic programs at the donor’s request.
In a one-page summary pitch to potential sponsors, the district mentions the possibility of arranging school visits to pass out samples of approved food products or placing the donors’ logos in school cafeterias. Or perhaps they might rather have the naming rights for the Academic Decathlon or Drill Team championships.
While the district will soon begin enthusiastically pitching the sponsorships to local businesses and major corporations, they are making it clear that they have their limits. No alcohol, tobacco or firearms can be promoted. No companies that promote high-calorie or high-fat foods will get play, either.
“You’ll never see any Coca-Cola signs sponsoring anything here,” Ms. Infusino said. She said that she had already received several inquiries from companies about sponsorships, though she declined to name names.
Josh Golin, the associate director for the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. said that districts had been turning to corporate sponsorships for years with limited success.
“They really have an unrealistic idea of the amount of money they can raise with the kind of restrictions they are talking about,” he said.
With no sign that the financial picture will get any better anytime soon, Mr. Zimmer said he expected “no end to these kinds of Solomonic choices.”
And, Ms. Infusino added: “We’re not naïve; it is not going to take away all of our budget issues.”
A version of this article appears in print on December 16, 2010, on Page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: Los Angeles Schools, Facing Budget Cuts, Decide to Seek Corporate Sponsors. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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