Illinois’ school boards and superintendents are worried having enough funds for schools next year, and some are looking to private sponsorships for help.
A school district in suburban Riverside near Chicago sold the naming rights to a high school football field for $140,000. Ottawa in Northern Illinois has allowed businesses to bid on naming rights to nearly every building in the district since 2014.
Purdue University Professor Josh Boyd studies these sponsorships. Boyd said these deals can bring in a significant amount of money.
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“Being able to say so many consumers are going to see our name, it will be associated with this positive, hometown connection,” Boyd said. “That might make it easier for a business to give to a school.”
But Boyd warned the deals aren’t always perfect: “If the business struggles or has difficulties, then that could reflect negatively on the school.”
A suburban Chicago school district in Highland Park decided to postpone an agreement in March that would have allowed partial sponsorships. Township High School District 113 board member Debra Hymen said the deal equated to the school’s selling its soul.
“It is philosophically in conflict with what public education is all about,” Hymen said.