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DISD School Naming Rights Could Soon Be For Sale

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – School lunch in the Carl’s Cutlets Cafeteria…reading and research in the Bonkers For Books.com Library… and finally a Friday night game at the Stan’s Sturdy Staircases Stadium. Sound crazy? Maybe not.

The Dallas Independent School District is in need of money and one school board member thinks a good way to raise those funds is to sell off the naming rights for auditoriums, stadiums, classrooms and playgrounds.

“I’m sure you’ve been exposed to things like, ‘buy a brick for this monument or for this church’,” explained DISD Board Member Mike Morath. “I think, especially given the economic environment that we have now, that we need to be as creative as possible in looking at funding sources.”

Morath, who is new to the board, says offering the names of facilities for a price is a good way to raise money and he thinks he could get other board members to support him.

Selling naming rights and corporate ad space at Texas schools is nothing new. The Grapevine-Colleyville ISD offers ad space on school buses, stadiums and the roof of a school that’s in the flight landing paths of planes touching down at Dallas/Fort Worth International airport.

Plano ISD has made tens of thousands of dollars by selling game-day sponsorships and stadium end-zone advertising. But the money gets even bigger just the east in Tyler. There, after coughing up nearly $2,000,000, you can settle in for a high school gridiron battle at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium – named for Trinity Mother Frances Health System, naturally.

No word on what Morath and other Dallas School Board members would consider charging companies for the rights.

As it stands, the process to name or rename auditoriums, stadiums, classrooms or entire schools is the DISD is pretty loose.

“The practice in the past has been to rename it really after anybody that’s nominated by the community at large. So, they could be former students or they could have absolutely no relation [to the school],” said Morath.

There are also those who believe that selling the names of schools or any part of the school facilities denigrates, what has until now been considered, the honor of having a school named after a city, state or national leader.

There are also concerns about the type of businesses that would be brought in to area schools. It wasn’t a school but remember Enron Field in Houston?

Other debates hinge on the long-term profit feasibility. For many, selling naming rights is only a short-term fix for fixing financial troubles at schools, since the money is usually a one-time donation.

“What schools have to understand is that naming a stadium after a corporation is basically saying to the kids, ‘Buy this. These are the good guys.’ And should a school be doing that?” Susan Linn, a Harvard psychologist and founding member of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, told the Houston Chronicle. “We used to name buildings after heroes, and now what we’re doing is naming buildings after the highest bidder.”

The interest in naming rights is curious since many school districts are making it a point to not to renew contracts with vending machine and soda companies.

But the decision to sell naming rights in the Dallas ISD won’t be a fast one. A school district policy change of such magnitude would need to be approved by the school board.

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