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School (Web Sites) For Sale

With budgets slashed and staff layoffs coming by the thousands, schools are getting desperate to raise revenue. That desperation is leading to some creative schemes. Last year, a Maryland school district played advertisements on school bus radios until parents protested. In November, a teacher in San Diego raised controversy by selling ad space on his math tests. And now, Prince William’s County, Va., public schools are raising revenue by selling ad space on the Web sites of 17 of their schools, according to The Washington Post.

Since the school district started selling ads in October 2008, it has raised more than $50,000. Money has come from county education sponsors, including a car dealership, power companies, BB&T Bank, and Lockhead Martin.

"We're just looking for any way in these economic times to maximize people's donations," said Sharon Henry, executive director of the Prince William County Public Schools Education Foundation, who started the project. "It opens up a whole new opportunity for them to support schools by giving back."

Henry would like to raise at least $25,000 more from the advertising by the end of the school year and expand the ads to all 87 of their school Web sites.

The advertisements have been met with mixed reactions from parents and educators.

"To me, it kind of cheapens the education mission, and it takes a captive audience and shoves advertising down their throats," said Manassas Park Superintendent Thomas DeBolt.

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