Advertising Part of NYC Schools’ Student Planners

LOS ANGELES — More than 500,000 New York City students next year will receive a 144-page student planner that contains useful tips on how to organize their schoolwork-and up to 30 pages of national advertising.

School boards across the country still wrestle with the appropriateness of in-school marketing, but they are increasingly turning to advertisers as a source of new revenue or to defray costs as budgets tighten.

Many efforts provide an educational tool and include local groups or advertisers. Planners, for example, are backed by local advertisers in a Florida school, and in Connecticut, the electrical workers’ union pays for their production, said Dan Fischer, publisher of Quality Planners, the Hicksville, N.Y., company that produces the New York planners.

“It’s individual school district by school district-they’re all struggling with it,” said Susan Singer, president of Chicago-based Field Trip Factory, which creates sponsored field trips for students in 44 states. She said that many of the systems she works with are OK with the concept “if there’s a logical way of enhancing that education by using valuable marketing techniques.”

“We are very active in trying to go after alternative revenues,” said Michael Coneys, chairperson of the Chancellor’s Committee for Approval of School Advertising, formed in 1996 to regulate in-school marketing to New York’s 1.1 million students. “There are still groups that are very sensitive to it, but if we are responsible, then we really get much fewer complaints.”

Quality Planners has sold pages, which cost $28,500 each, to Snapple, Con Edison and The New York Times, Fischer said. The school system gets the planners for free. Coneys estimated that if the schools had to buy the planners, which are targeted at middle and high school students, the cost would be $6-7,000 per 1,000 units.

“Our approach is not a hard sell. We want to make sure we are making good use of the situation, as opposed to trying to exploit something,” said Steve Jarmon, vp of communications at Snapple.