Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

July 23, 2013
Schools must avoid costly extra-curriculars

On behalf of budget-conscious parents like me out there, can I please ask schools to put a moratorium on huge, expensive extra-curricular activities? Last I checked, we’re in a bit of an economic slump. The county’s trying to dig out of its financial mess. Businesses are channeling the 70s, barely staying alive.

I know, I know. I’m being a wet blanket. It reminds me of a time many years ago when, at a PTA meeting, I asked if throwing Tootsie Rolls from a float was a good use of our funds. And the arch answer came, “Well, if we took that attitude, we wouldn’t do anything.”

But I think parents are all feeling the pinch nowadays.

The other day, I ran into a friend who told me how much money her son is trying to raise for the once-in-a-lifetime honor of playing with the Tooele High Band at Pearl Harbor: fifteen hundred bucks.

Long whistle.

I think it’s a cool opportunity to play at Pearl Harbor. Not to mention going to Hawaii. But $1,500 is still a lot of dough for a boy on minimum wage to raise by December.

When push comes to shove, I’m sure my friend will make up the difference. I mean, what parent wouldn’t, when you see your kid doing their part to raise a sum that, multiplied a hundredfold, could balance county budgets? And would you really want your kid left out on something that his peers are doing?

A couple of winters ago, my son was going door-to-door selling tickets to a fundraiser so he could go on a school trip. It was raining, the wind was howling, and his hands were chapped from the cold. He was getting more no’s than a fur salesman in July. He looked at me through his wind-whipped, rain-soaked bangs and asked, “Do I have to keep going?”

It’s those times when you just want to tell them never mind, come on home, I’ll just figure out a way to pay for this. But reality is, there’s not that much money to go around, and you are so grateful when somehow or another they raise the money themselves.

You just hope that whatever they are raising money for is really worth all the time, sacrifice and neighbor aggravation.

So all I’m asking school personnel, as you decide to offer an activity, please think twice, thrice, four times about it. Maybe come up with cheaper alternatives. But don’t offer students everything as a matter of course.

I was making lunch the other day when I overheard my son talking to his friend about a shirt they were designing for a class fundraiser. In their youthful optimism, they were talking about sponsors they’ll include on the back of the shirt. They had two weeks, plenty of time.

For one moment, I thought about saying how busy his next couple weeks already were. But I didn’t. Because you know what? Sometimes things line up just right. Add a dose of hard work and anything is possible.

Besides, he didn’t ask me to help him out. I got off easy that time.


Jewel Punzalan Allen is a memoir writing coach and long-time journalist who lives in Grantsville. Visit her website at

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