The Golden State Warriors plan to resurface the basketball courts at Willie Brown Middle School with their logo at center court. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

The Golden State Warriors plan to resurface the basketball courts at Willie Brown Middle School with their logo at center court. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

SF school board lifts ad ban for Warriors, considers new donor policy

Despite concerns over the commercialization of public schools, the San Francisco Board of Education lifted an advertising ban Tuesday for the Golden State Warriors to brand the basketball courts at the new Willie Brown Middle School.

The proposal also brought to light that the San Francisco Unified School District has operated without a policy on the recognition of charitable donations, even though the school district has increasingly recruited donors through a new non-profit wing since last year.

The Warriors are expected to resurface the brand new basketball courts behind Willie Brown, and plaster the team logo on a nearby retaining wall and at center court, which will cost the team between $15,000 and $20,000, according to a Warriors spokesperson.

The school board unanimously voted to exempt the project from the district’s landmark Commercial-Free Schools Act, which banned brand names and logos from school sites in 1999.

The proposal was a compromise between commissioners who saw no problem with the addition of logos at the school since the Warriors are seen as a positive influence on youths and have previously donated to Willie Brown, and those worried about the presence of for-profit corporations on campus.

Jill Wynns, who co-authored the almost two-decade-old advertising ban, was the board member most skeptical of the proposal.

“If they’re going to turn it into a mini Warriors arena, I do have a problem with that,” Wynns said at the meeting, noting the district’s long history of push back against advertisements at schools.

In the agreed upon version of the proposal, the Warriors won’t be allowed to place their logo on the court backboards until further review at the board’s Rules, Policy and Legislation Committee.

“It’s not so much a branding issue, because I would be much more opposed to that, this is much more an opportunity to give students a daily reminder that there are heroes in their lives who actually care who they are,” Superintendent Richard Carranza said before the vote. “They care so much that they want them to remember the Warriors have your back.”

Board members also agreed at the meeting to consider implementing a donor recognition policy in light of the debate around logos at Willie Brown.

The district has taken up a common practice of naming facilities and schools after contributors, like the stadium at Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School that was named after San Francisco philanthropist Claude Rosenberg in 2006.

Private contributions to the school district doubled over the last three fiscal years to reach $13.7 million in 2015-16, according to school district spokesperson Gentle Blythe, and more donations are likely to pour in after November when the district begins searching for private funders to help build a new arts center.

“We are being much more successful at attracting philanthropic dollars,” Rachel Norton, another board member, said at the meeting. “It’s smart for us to have a donor recognition policy.”

The latest figure includes $8.3 million raised through the nonprofit corporation the SFUSD launched last year called Spark SF Public Schools, according to nonprofit records, which generated $50,000 in 2015-16 from the Warriors Community Foundation.

SFUSD officials are hoping to complete the basketball renovation at Willie Brown before school starts next week.
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