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Blondell readies push for school advertising bill

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown wants to clear up some myths about her school property advertising bill.

After it moved successfully out of committee at the beginning of the month, Brown said she's been getting hit with a hailstorm of concerns from her constituents regarding the content of the ads that might appear on school property, should the measure pass next year.

In its original form, the bill would prohibit commercial displays on any school property with historic value and ban ads featuring alcohol or tobacco. It's expected to bring millions of dollars to the city's cash-strapped public school district, but it was stalled at last week's final City Council meeting of 2013.

"One very legitimate concern is the nature of the advertising, that it will be reckless and irresponsible," she said.

"We've never been down this road before, but the way you minimize that is to stay intimately involved in the process – even after it moves out of City Council – to ensure the spirit of the legislation is being honored."

New amendments to the bill Brown plans to introduce would call for the creation of "parental advisory councils" by district and for the School Reform Commission to have "ultimate veto power" on all ads placed on school buildings. She said language in the final draft will also ask for involvement from the planning commission and Council's education committee.

"It will be a working group that makes sure the advertising content is selective and thoughtful," she said.

"As long as we're having to look at $300 million in (school district) cuts, you can't just sit and wait. You have to do something."

Calls seeking comment from a school district spokesman were not returned at press time.