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Cash-strapped L.A. schools seeking corporate-naming sponsors for athletic fields, other facilities

December 15, 2010 |  7:16 am

Corporate sponsors could soon be adding their names to L.A. school athletic fields, auditoriums and other campus properties.

The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education moved forward Tuesday on plans to seek corporate sponsors as a means of generating revenues.

Under the approved rules, the district superintendent could ink agreements up to $500,000, with school-board approval required for larger amounts. Sponsors would not be able to sell or market specific products to children; instead, they would have “branding” opportunities.

Examples could include signs on scoreboards or naming rights to auditoriums or athletic fields or a brand name on a drum purchased with a corporate donation.

“Let me tell you, this is all advertising,” L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said, adding, “we’re not going to put advertising where it offends.”

He added that efforts would be made to share the money generated by sponsorships equitably among schools.

Some are concerned. “I’m uncomfortable with this,” said board member Steve Zimmer, who explained that he cast his vote supporting sponsorships in the wake of state budget cuts because “the public is not funding public education in California.”

One estimate put potential annual revenue at $18 million, but Cortines cautioned that such expectations might be overly optimistic. The district already was able to preserve some sports programs with a fundraising effort that netted about $1.5 million.

“We’re asking for help from our corporate community,” said board President Monica Garcia. “We’re trying to get help.”

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-- Howard Blume

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