School board approves advertising banner at SHS

School board approves advertising banner at SHS

This is an updated story that clarifies the intentions of two school board members.
SMITHFIELD - In a split vote, the School Committee decided to allow a parent to erect an advertising banner in support of the high school football team, in exchange for which the parent will cover the cost of team dinners.

Those opposed said there should first be a policy in place that guides the school department in a consistent manner when considering this and future requests.

High School Principal Dan Kelley said the parent of a Smithfield student asked him about setting up a sign on school property along Route 116 that would say: "The Village at Waterman Lake Supports SHS Football." In exchange, the donor would pay for the team dinners.

Chairman Richard B. Iannitelli suggested an advertising policy might be needed. Previously, "we just said 'no' to everything," observed Committeewoman Virginia G. Harnois.

When discussion turned to the revenue that might result, Kelley observed that the donor might also be interested in helping out during the winter sports season. Harnois said the donor is a "very generous gentleman who contributes to road races and raises money for scholarships." Other school districts make money by selling advertising rights, it was noted.

After a quick check with legal counsel Ben Scungio, it was decided that one sign or banner could be allowed on school property on a "pilot" basis for the football season, without setting a precedent, and it must be removed by Dec. 1. Size of and message on the sign are subject to the superintendent's approval.

Voting in favor were Iannitelli, Harnois and Committeeman Brenden T. Oates. Opposed were members Kellie-Ann Heenan and Sean Clough. Clough said he wants to see an advertising policy first. "We're putting the cart before the horse," he said.

Comments

While it is true that I voted against the approval of the banner at SHS - it was not (as the author indicates) because I am "against advertising of any kind." The truth is I believe that a policy should have been in place prior to the approval of signage - especially since previous requests had been denied. The difference of a "pilot" vs. a "precedent" seemed like semantics to me. I think advertising in accordance with an established, well thought out policy may be a viable revenue generator for some of our athletic programs. Further, I suggested that the Superintendent contact the Consortium to access an existing policy to hasten the process and prevent a "recreation of the wheel." The advertising itself was not why I voted "nay", my vote was based on the fact that the Smithfield School District lacked a solid foundation or approved policy to support the decision.

-Kellie-Ann Heenan, Vice-Chair Smithfield School Committee