Should School Districts Be Spending Money on Starbucks Coffee?

March 1 2010, 10:56 AM
A recent Fox News Poll found that 78 percent of American voters think government spending is out of control. Though the voters' ire is largely focused on the federal government, given the recession, the results are worth keeping in mind even if you handle taxpayer dollars on a smaller scale---say, in schools. Despite cuts to educational institutions, a Denver Post investigation of spending at three school districts---Denver Public Schools, Douglas County, and Jefferson County---has found big spending on food, travel, and other discretionary items, with limited oversight. For instance, a Douglas County school spent $270 on scented pencils. A Denver high school charged $4,113 on donuts and burritos for breakfast meetings. In all, the three districts spent roughly $280,000 on items ranging from Starbucks coffee (more than $8,000) to pizza (more than $112,000) and conferences in places like Las Vegas. Officials defend most of the spending, arguing that food helps attract parents to school events, and conferences are usually held out-of-state. Still, Jefferson County is among some districts across the state that have grappled with the issue of closing schools to save money.