North Kitsap School District mulls corporate sponsorship

POULSBO, Wash. -- Viking Stadium at North Kitsap High School may one day bear another name -- that of a sponsor.

With money in tight supply, some school districts are looking at commercial advertising as a way to make up the budget gap.

And the school's buses may also soon bear ads. The North Kitsap School District has scores of buses with plenty of yellow open space on their sides. Some will argue that space could be used for advertising dollars just like the city buses. The district just cut $3 million from its budget and is looking at any way to offset that.

"As we're looking to really not put extra burden on our taxpayers, what can we do to raise funds?" said superintendent Patty Page.

All they have to do is look at the Sumner School District, which made a $1 million deal with local car dealer Sunset Chevrolet eight years ago. Its stadium is now called Sunset Chevrolet Stadium.

"We're making sure that this stadium is as self-sufficient as possible without taking money that could be used in the classroom," said Tim Thomsen, athletic director of the Sumner School District.

But as some students look at their stadium, they worry about the intrusion of corporate America into their public school setting.

"If Microsoft were to come in and (say,) 'Here at North Kitsap, it's the Microsoft Stadium.' It's like, 'No, this is Viking Stadium," said Fe Schell, a student.

"I really have no objections, because advertisements have already infested every other part of our lives," said Phoenix Olson, another student. "If it's going to bring the school some money to help fund arts and whatnot, why not?"

The district put together a volunteer group of educators, administrators, local citizens and local businesses to start taking a look at all options.

A final decision will be made by spring.