NEW YORK, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- The New York City Education Department calls them public service announcements, but some are calling the signs featuring Snapple-funded athletics as ads.
In 2003, in an effort to gain outside revenue for New York City schools, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a deal with Snapple making it the only beverage sold in city schools -- in exchange for benefits including $3 million annually to fund school sports, the New York Daily News reported Sunday.
The current controversy is over what some are calling ads -- signs plastered at bus stops that feature three top city school coaches. The signs also indicate that Snapple funded the creation of more than 138 teams in the Public School Athletic League.
"This crosses the line," said Steve Sanders, a former state assemblyman. "City schools should not be used to enrich a private company."
The city says the signs "highlight the benefits of the Snapple partnership with the Department of Education."
The signs are part of Snapple's year-long "Return the Favor" national campaign, which recognizes everyday people helping other, a Snapple spokesman said.