District taps into Rocket, Spartan and Panther wear
The Rochester School Board agreed to a royalty agreement that would allow a Pennsylvania company to sell apparel and accessories bearing the trademarked logos of the district's three high schools in exchange for 7 percent of the net sales.
Officials say that Ohioplye Prints, Inc., a self-described leading supplier of school apparel, approached Rochester officials about entering into a royalty agreement with them several weeks ago.
Mark Kuisle, Century High School athletics director, said the district has a clothing agreement with companies to sell varsity uniforms but nothing for more general items, such as T-shirts and sweatshirts, that would net a financial return for the district. Kuisle called the arrangement "new territory" for the district when asked about how the 7 percent return was established.
"There are many businesses that would like to see John Marshall, Mayo and Century apparel," Kuisle told the board. "In the past, we would not get any revenue from them selling our apparel. And that gives us an option to do that."
Kuisle said the logos of the three high schools were trademarked soon after Century High School opened. And only once has the district asked an outlet to stop selling products that bore them. But grocery stores and retail outlets can get around the need for pre-approval by just using the name of the school or mascot and not the trademarked logo.
"Most of the time, we don't have any control over those," Kuisle said.
Rochester Superintendent Michael Munoz said he would be responsible for ensuring the high school's logos would be used in appropriate ways and would thus not find themselves on, say, cigarette ashtrays.
"And no Nebraska hats," said board member Dan O'Neil, in a jocular reference to the superintendent's alma mater.
It's not clear how much royalty money the district is likely to gain from the arrangement. In an information sheet, Ohiopyle Prints claims to have distributed more than $1.5 million to schools. But it doesn't say over what period of time. Officials also conceded the district would have to rely on Ohiopyle to truthfully report how much Rochester products are sold.
"We don't have anything here on how that's verified," said board member Gary Smith, referring to the draft agreement.
How those dollars might be used also hasn't been decided, said Larry Smith, the district's executive director of business and operations, but it wouldn't be a "bad use" if those dollars supplemented the budgets of the schools' athletic and activities programs.
In the end, the board agreed it would be an opportunity to capture some dollars for the district. And if it didn't work, the arrangement could be terminated after one year.
"The good part is it's for one year, and if it doesn't work out, we don't do it anymore," Munoz said.