School Board Weighs Contract With Pepsi

Camarillo High School would become a Pepsi-only campus under a proposal before the Oxnard Union High School District Board of Trustees tonight.

The three-year agreement would allow only Pepsi products to be stocked in campus soft-drink vending machines. In exchange, the school would receive new football and baseball scoreboards at an estimated cost of $17,806.

While similar agreements have angered groups throughout the country--warning that public schools are becoming over-commercialized--some students and district representatives say partnerships with private corporations help pick up where public funding often falls short.

"We want to be very careful about what we can do," said Eric Ortega, assistant superintendent for the district. "But we don't have enough funding in a budget allocated to do some of things that private industries can."

The contract, proposed by Principal Terry Tackett, would grant Pepsi exclusive rights to sell its products in all areas of the campus except the school cafeteria. The agreement covers other Pepsi products, such as Ocean Spray juice, Aquafina water and the sport drink, All-Sport. Tackett said he would not comment on the contract until it is reviewed by the board.

The proposed agreement is not a new idea for schools throughout the nation, or even the district. Oxnard High School has had an agreement with Pepsi, and Channel Islands High has a contract with Coca-Cola.

Pepsi spokesman Larry Jobonsky said districts have become more reliant on outside funding.

"Soft drink bottlers of any stripe have always played a critical role in public schools," Jobonsky said. "What is new is the rising cost of education has compelled administrators to be more creative."

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