November 10, 2011 |

Idaho company makes profit off school

Some businesses this fall balked on sponsoring a Haines Glacier Bear T-shirt created by an Idaho firm, saying they shouldn’t be sending money out of town to support the school here.

They also questioned why those shirts weren’t being created by a local outfit.

All-American Publishing, a company based in Boise, Idaho, was to create the shirts. It already produced the school’s activities calendar. Under an arrangement with the high school’s student government, the company for the past two years solicited and collected advertising for the calendar, and printed it.

Sarah Swinton, of Olerud’s Market Center, said her family’s store was solicited to buy a business-card-size ad on the T-shirt for $220. According to an arrangement between the school and the company, the company receives the ad revenue and the district is to receive 100 free T-shirts.

"All we’re getting is 100 shirts and none of the (advertising) money is going to the school. I don’t think it’s right. We can have someone in town make shirts. It’s something we could do and the money could go to the kids. I don’t like the money not staying in Haines," Swinton said.

The school calendar for years was created within the district. It included local advertising and was printed in Juneau, said former high school principal Gary Matthews. "We went out and sold the ads and stuff like that," he said.

But the calendar had been discontinued several years when All-American contacted student government advisor Rene Martin about making it. The arrangement was that All-American would solicit and collect advertising from the calendar and student government would receive $1,000, an amount equivalent to 10 or 15 percent of an estimated $7,000 in advertising sales.

All-American provides posters, page-size and wallet-size calendars to the district. The company did not return phone messages the CVN left for it regarding this story.

Martin said she understands that some people don’t think the arrangement is appropriate, but she said her group of students can’t do the calendar. "The bottom line is time. All my students in student government have three or four other activities and are working to keep up their (grades)."

Martin said she would be willing to work with a local group or person wanting to head up the project. "We’d look at anyone else’s proposal. If a local person or committee is willing to look at it, we’d be interested in hearing from them."

She said she understands why residents are concerned. "I get their points 100 percent, but help us out a little. I know people think kids should help themselves, but we’re fortunate for what percentage of the school population is active."

Proceeds from the calendar and T-shirt go toward school service projects and travel to statewide student government events, Martin said.

Former principal Matthews, who now heads up the statewide Alaska Student Activities Association, said the calendar and T-shirts ideally would be done by activity supporters. "Most schools have booster clubs. That’s really something the booster club should be doing."

Derek Hagler, high school supervisor for the Anchorage School District, said the state’s largest district doesn’t support or approve of working with outside companies on school promotion items. Part of the reason, he said, is the district recently has been the victim of scams, including phone solicitation by fraudulent outfits.

"The problem is if you’re the guy at Joe’s Auto Repair (receiving the phone solicitation), you don’t know where the money is going to. We try to make it clearer so we don’t lose that public trust," Hagler said.

Hagler said the Anchorage district recently took action to prevent the Boys and Girls Clubs there from capitalizing on a school name and logo. The district protects its exclusive right to its name, he said. "Carrs supermarket can’t sell Service High School gear."

Some schools and many universities secure a trademark on the institution’s name, effectively prohibiting others from capitalizing on it. Swinton, whose store sells some clothing bearing the high school logo, said she doesn’t think trademarking the school’s name is necessary.

"Anybody can put Haines Glacier Bears on stuff, if that’s what they want to do," she said, noting that her store also makes donations to the local school.

"I don’t want to create a bureaucracy, but that’s for the school to decide… We’re all just trying to get along and provide things to our kids and our school and trying to show some community pride," Swinton said.