Patrick Bravo told his colleagues on the Akron school board that he would “like to find a better way to honor” LeBron James. He argued that $15,000 could be put to “better use.” Fellow board member Tim Miller recently joined him in opposition to plans for the Akron Public Schools to show its appreciation to James through an advertisement in the Cleveland Cavaliers yearbook.
Both Bravo and Miller deserve credit for contributing to improvements in the way the board functions. They have reason to tout such things as a stronger committee structure as they seek re-election this fall.
At the same time, the proposal for the ad hardly is ill-considered, let alone wasteful. As the school administration has explained, the money will come through a lease agreement with wireless communications firms that purchase space from the district. It matters, too, that the school system received a discount on the ad price.
Most noteworthy are the benefits that the relationship with James brings to the district. Say, he tweets the ad. Instantly, tens of millions in Twitterville will see two students from the Akron schools and his Wheels for Education program leaping and smiling, expressing thanks to James “for believing in us!”
That is valuable exposure, along with the many other ways the ad promises to be seen and make an impression.
Then, there's the relationship itself. How many of the 1,000 or so children in the Wheels program would be receiving an education elsewhere if not for James intervening to make a difference for the kids? In that way, $15,000 seems a small sum compared to all James already has and will bring to the Akron schools.