Q Our school district is considering the operation of a “team store” that would sell items customized with the school logo, colors and teams to the general public. This store would be managed by faculty, staff, and students, to educate the students through hands on experience of operating an enterprise. May the district operate the team store as described, even though it may generate a profit? If so, will the district treat those profits as district funds under Mississippi law?

A Our office has consistently opined that local government entities including school districts may not engage in advertising if the primary purpose is to make a profit as opposed to fulfilling some governmental function. The stated purpose of the team store is “to teach students real world skills in the areas of marketing, advertising, website design and maintenance, photography, branding and customer service.” This appears to be consistent with the powers and duties of the school board granted in Section 37-7-301. The money received by the school, including any profits, becomes public funds and must be accounted for and expended in the same manner as other public funds (Attorney General’s Opinion to Revere, June 30, 2017)