Advertising will soon be a fact of life at New Milford schools

Regulations are being written this summer by the New Milford Board of Education for businesses that want to advertise in school event brochures, yearbooks or on sport fields.

The school board last month accepted updates to the district advertising and promotions policy, so businesses will be allowed to post signs on sports fields.

Since May 2001, the district has had a policy that prohibits posting signs on school grounds.

The revisions stemmed from a town council suggestion that the school district generate much-needed revenue by allowing businesses to post signs at school sports fields, primarily the fence around the high school's gated athletic field.

Superintendent JeanAnn Paddyfote said she is not opposed to this type of advertising but wants to be sure anything posted on school property would meet uniform guidelines for size, content, format and prices charged.

At June 9's Board of Education meeting, council members Joseph Failla and Pete Bass defended the policy change as a chance to benefit local businesses and to generate revenue to cover some of the expenses of the athletic program.

If such advertising prevents the controversial pay-to-play sports policy from being brought back in the future, Mr. Failla and Mr. Bass said, the district needs to encourage rather than discourage it.

New Milford is far from the first district to allow such advertising at its sport facilities.

The Danbury Board of Education approved such signs six years ago with the opening of its new high school football stadium, said Chip Salvestrini, the district's director of athletics and physical education. He said the signs generate about $5,000 to $7,000 a year that is used to assist with costs of the athletic programs.

He said Bethel and Ridgefield also allow such advertising and that more and more school districts across the state are following suit.