School spending blues settling in

Brian Brown, Reporter
One sad fact remains as true today as it was when I was a child: Summer does not last forever. Though, I must admit, I am sad about it ending for different reasons these days.

A quick glance at my calendar reminded me of the early start for Springfield Public Schools, which is scheduled to kick off the 2012-2013 school year Aug. 15. Already, I’ve heard my wife mutter a few dirty words around the house – words such as “shoes, backpacks and jeans.”

With four school-aged boys from fourth grade to college in the home, we both know what’s coming. Next to Christmas, back-to-school shopping is the most dreaded shopping event of the year. However, I know, too, that parents’ misery can be a windfall for local retailers.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, families spent $7.7 billion on clothing in August 2011, falling only behind November and December. Book store sales last August were at $2.4 billion, the best month of the year.

In 2009, there were nearly 26,651 shoe stores in the U.S. and 8,661 department stores serving the needs of children like mine; 79 million children and adults were enrolled in everything from nursery schools to colleges in October 2010, according to Census data.

My wife and I have yet to set a budget for school supplies, but I expect whatever we spend will be more than either of us will want to let go of. My boys are ages 9, 12, 16 and 20. I am pleased to report, however, the 20-year-old is really learning something valuable this year: He’s learning to fend for himself.

I’m wondering now if SPS teaches budgeting. I know I would have found that more useful than Algebra II. Oh well, maybe the boys will eat less when they’re not parked in front of the refrigerator.

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