"Facing $70 million in budget reductions over the next two years, we really do need to be creative," said Lorie Gillis, Chief Financial Officer for Jeffco Schools.
Jeffco Schools will get $90,000 over three years to run a 2-inch advertisement for CollegeInvest at the bottom of all elementary school report cards distributed three times a year. CollegeInvest is an arm of the state government which administers college savings programs known as 529s.
"We have similar missions. CollegeInvest is all about education," said Angela Baier, Chief Marketing Officer for CollegeInvest. "It seemed like a win-win for both of us."
Baier says CollegeInvest just wants elementary school parents to think about saving for college now, while their kids are young.
"I really view it as a public service announcement because we're a non-profit and it's helping families that obviously have children," said Baier.
But, does this mark the beginning of even more ads on report cards?
"There's going be a lot of different opinions about advertising," said Gillis. "Where do you stop with commercialization of the school district? What's your intent? Are we just going to start seeing advertisements everywhere?"
Baier thinks it will be accepted by parents.
"Some people may not like it, but we think the majority will," said Baier.
We showed the new report cards to parents at Kyffin Elementary. Hank Ward, a parent of two students, says it's great idea, but one that should be treated with care.
"When we start opening up the schools for advertising, I think we need to be careful with that," said Ward. "I think there's some discretion that needs to be exercised."
Gillis promises the district will be prudent.
"There's not a lot of room in the report card and you certainly don't want to over-direct the viewing of the report card to advertising," he said.
Laurie Pino, mother of two students, says the ad is not distracting from the grades.
"It's a great opportunity for advertising to bring money in or revenue in for Jeffco and we all know they need it," said Pino.
Gillis knows that the money can only make a dent in the current budget shortfall, but she says every bit helps.
"You can look and say, $90,000 isn't that much, $30,000-a-year isn't that much, but we are at a point in time where it is that much cause it matters," said Gillis. "If it's $30,000-a-year, that could be 60 more laptops in the classroom."
Like other surrounding districts, Jeffco Schools already places advertisements on the outside of its school busses.
Pino says this is something parents should get used to.
"I still will save mine and you know, whether there's an ad or not, it's still a keepsake," said Pino.
(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)