Parents pave a costly road to Summer vacation

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by Kelli Warner
KMTR-TV Morning News anchor
Springfield, OR

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that June is one of the most expensive months of the school year. Don’t be fooled by the new clothes and school supplies purchased in September. That feels like a distant memory to what I’ve shelled out over the last two weeks. The list is a long one:
  • First I handed over the admission money for my daughter’s spring field trip to the Oregon zoo.
  • Then, I paid the participation fee for my son to attend his school’s end-of-the-year swimming party and BBQ.
  • I also wrote my annual donation check for the school jog-a-thon.
  • The end of my daughter’s soccer season came with a team party and a cash payment for a team t-shirt and a gift for the coach.

My daughter’s teacher is retiring after 30+ years in the classroom. My son also had her as a teacher. Both of my kids benefited tremendously from being in her class, so I’m pitching in on a gift (although no one has decided what it is yet) that conveys our thanks for her dedication to our children.

And did I mention that our school Parent Teacher Organization is attempting to have our school building repainted over the summer? Helping to reach that goal, I have donated to numerous fundraisers; including a McTeacher night at the local McDonald’s where our school received a portion of the night’s proceeds. I’ve bought pizza on “Pizza Night,” Bingo tickets on “Bingo Night,” and I just unloaded a jar full of change for the school coin drive that is currently underway.

Whew! It’s enough to make my wallet throw up its leather flaps in defeat and say “Please, no more. I give!”

It’s really a tough situation that moms and dads find themselves in these days. I want to be the parent that helps out, supports the fundraisers and allows the kids to take part in all the end-of-the-year, gotta-be-a-part-of activities. But I’m going to be honest—it’s A LOT after a while.

Has it always been like this? I’m not really sure anymore. I mean, I always remember pitching in for a ‘thank you’ gift for the teacher. That’s a given. I always wrote a check for the kids’ yearbooks, too. But I’m pretty sure parents are called on for more monetary support now, than they were ten or fifteen years ago.

When my son started kindergarten, I remember being surprised to see two reams of white copy paper on his school supply list. When did parents start paying for supplies like that? Now, 8 years and two kids later, the parents at my daughter’s elementary school are fundraising to paint the school building. Why? Several reasons. One: it really needs it. The weathered paint job outside just doesn’t reflect what a great school it is inside. Two: a local contractor stepped up and offered us a very generous bid of $11,000 for a building that normally would cost $35,000-$50,000. And finally: while our school is slated to be painted by the district in 2013, no one is convinced there will be money in the district’s budget for that, when the time comes.

I sense heads nodding as you read this. I’m sure you’ve all bought your fair share of cookie dough and gift wrap to help whatever the cause was at your school. It seems to be what we do now to give our schools and our students what they need–whether it be musical instruments in the band room, field trips, computer equipment or, alas, a nice new paint job to say “We take pride in our school!” And I guess in the end, that sentiment is why I continue to open my wallet. Because I know that by supporting the school, I’m supporting the kids and teachers within its walls.